Subaru said today it will expand its Lafayette, Ind., plant to boost production of the Outback crossover and Legacy sedan and wagon.
The $75 million, 52,000-square-foot expansion of the plant’s body assembly section is slated to start this summer and will increase the plant’s capacity to 180,000 vehicles during regular shifts, according to Subaru. The current limit is 156,000 units on straight time, the company said.
The expansion also is expected to create 100 full-time jobs, according to Subaru, a unit of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan.
The Lafayette plant employs 3,600, with more than 600 jobs added since 2009, Subaru said. It also makes the Tribeca SUV. Another line there produces the Camry sedan for Toyota Motor Corp.
The expansion confirms plans for more North American capacity, which Fuji signaled during a May 8 press conference in Japan.
Subaru recently scrapped a plan to build vehicles in China by 2016 and instead will focus on boosting North American output.
Besides increasing output at its Indiana plant, Subaru may increase North American production with a new vehicle line or even a new factory, Automotive News reported this week.
In 2011, more than half of Subaru’s vehicles sold in North America were assembled at the Indiana plant, which opened in 1987.
The plant produced 170,629 vehicles in the 2012 fiscal year, but daily and Saturday overtime shifts were needed to reach that number.
Another reason why Subaru has upped production in Indiana since 2010 is to counteract foreign exchange rates that hurt profits on imported vehicles.
Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, president of Fuji Heavy, wants the Indiana plant to build 200,000 vehicles a year by 2014.
“The expansion of SIA’s capacity is necessary to meet the growing demand for Subaru vehicles in the North American market,” said Tom Easterday, executive vice president of Subaru of Indiana Automotive, in a statement. “The success of the SIA-built Legacy and Outback is the result of innovative design focused on the needs of our customers, a strong reputation for quality and reliability and consistently achieving top safety ratings.”
Through April, Subaru sold 15,916 Legacys, up 12 percent from the same four months of 2011. Subaru sold 35,608 Outbacks during the first four months, up 2 percent from 2011.