Toyota announced Tuesday that it will boost SUV production at an Indiana factory with a $600 million investment the company says will add 400 jobs. The company said it will retool and buy new equipment for the Princeton assembly plant in southwestern Indiana, which will allow the factory to produce 40,000 more Highlanders a year when the project is finished in the fall of 2019.
The announcement came just after President Donald Trump met with CEOs of the Detroit automakers to demand that new factories be built in the US. Toyota says the investment was planned before the election and is not related to Trump.
The Princeton project is part of Toyota’s plan to invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years.
Toyota’s move to increase Highlander production follows a jump of more than 20 percent in U.S. sales of the SUV last year to just more than 191,000.
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Toyota opened the Princeton factory in 1998. The plant now has about 5,000 workers and also builds Sequoia SUVs and Sienna minivans. The plant built about 400,000 vehicles last year, up from about 375,000 during 2015, according to the company.
Toyota Indiana President Millie Marshall said the project was a sign of the company’s commitment.
”Over the next three years, we will updating our plant, bringing in advanced technologies to set us up for a very bright future,” she said.
Toyota has expanded the plant about 25 miles north of Evansville several times, most recently with a $100 million project announced in 2014 to boost Highlander production.