Toyota Motor Corp., demonstrating the impact of the new U.S.-Korean free trade agreement, today said it will export Sienna minivans from its Princeton, Ind., plant to distributors in South Korea.
Shipments of an estimated 600 vehicles a year are scheduled to begin in early November, according to a company statement.
"Toyota's North American operations are constantly working to identify and expand opportunities for the vehicles we produce here," Yoshimi Inaba, COO of Toyota Motor North America Inc., said in the statement.
This will be the first time the Sienna will be exported from North America.
In September, Toyota was considering shifting production of its South Korea-bound Camry mid-sized cars to the United States from Japan to help lower export costs, due in part to a soaring yen and a free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea, according to media reports.
"While we continue to explore opportunities to export other U.S.-built Toyota vehicles, no concrete decisions have been made about future exports," Toyota spokesman Javier Moreno said in an e-mail.
Toyota also exports its Avalon sedan produced in Georgetown, Ky., as well as its Sequoia SUV assembled in Princeton, and Tacoma and Tundra pickups produced in San Antonio, Texas.
Toyota supported the free trade accord between the U.S. and South Korea.
"The plans for Sienna exports to South Korea were under development prior to President Obama signing into law the free-trade agreement," Moreno said. "However, Toyota was in support of the passage of that bill."
Toyota's exports rose 30 percent in 2010 to about 100,000 units, the statement said.
Said Moreno: "With this specific development and some other possible developments in the future, our plan is to continue our exports."