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Toyota joins auto expansion in southern US

  • Toyota said it will build key components for a green vehicle in the southern U.S.
  • The automaker plans to invest nearly $374 million at plants in five states that will build components of the company's Highlander hybrid SUV.
  • Toyota's plans follow other investments made by Mercedes-Benz and Volvo in the South.
The 2017 Toyota Highlander hybrid SUV.
Source: Toyota
The 2017 Toyota Highlander hybrid SUV.

Toyota is the latest automaker to choose the southern United States as the place to build key components for a green vehicle.

The Japanese automaker will invest nearly $374 million at plants in five states that will build components for the company's new Highlander hybrid SUV.

"This latest wave of investment represents our efforts to localize production of hybrid powertrains to the U.S.," said Jeff Moore, senior vice president, manufacturing Toyota North America.

The investments will go toward expanding plants or building components at Toyota facilities in Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama.

Early this year, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda pledged $10 billion in investments to expand production in the U.S. About $1.6 billion of that investment will go toward a final assembly plant the automaker plans to build in a partnership with fellow Japanese automaker Mazda. The location for that plant has yet to be selected.

Toyota's announcement comes just days after Mercedes-Benz and Volvo both committed to expanding their production plants in Alabama and South Carolina, respectively.

Since the election of President Donald Trump, several foreign automakers have said they will add jobs and expand production in the United States. Those moves come as the Trump administration considers altering or scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"This investment is part of our long-term commitment to build more vehicles and components in the markets in which we sell them," said Jim Lentz, CEO, Toyota Motor North America.