The Toyota Highlander.

The Toyota Highlander.

ERLANGER, KY – Toyota announced it plans to increase production of its Highlander SUV in late 2013 at the company’s Princeton, Ind. plant. The automaker said this production increase includes Highlander Hybrid and export versions. Toyota expects this change to create approximately 400 new jobs at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, Inc. (TMMI), according to the company.

The company will invest about $400 million to support global demand for the Highlander, which will no longer be built in Japan by late 2013. Annual Highlander production volume is expected to increase by approximately 50,000 units at TMMI. The TMMI plant currently employs 4,800 and builds the Highlander, Sequoia SUV, and Sienna minivan.

“This project allows for better utilization of the Indiana plant and will help Toyota capitalize on the improving North American and global auto market,” said Steve St. Angelo, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. “In addition to new jobs at the Indiana plant, this project will increase opportunities and jobs for our North American supply base.”

“This project is part of our localization strategy to build vehicles where we sell them,” said TMMI President Norm Bafunno. “This announcement is a vote of confidence from Toyota Motor Corporation in the abilities of our team members and this plant.”