PRINCETON, Ind. — Toyota will make a series of North American factory allocation changes that further distance the company from decisions it made to help keep its plants operating during the Great Recession.
Under the new plan, Toyota is taking off past restraints and organizing its manufacturing operations here at maximum efficiency.
The upcoming moves are part of a huge new manufacturing investment campaign Toyota is undertaking in North America.
The company is in the middle of a five-year plan to spend $13 billion through 2021 on revitalizing and expanding its U.S., Canadian and Mexican plants and building new capacity.
Toyota and partner Mazda Motor Corp. are building a $1.6 billion joint-venture assembly plant in Huntsville, Ala., that will come online in 2021.
Last week, Toyota opened the doors of a refurbished Highlander production plant here that cost the company $700 million.
The $13 billion capital program still has $5.9 billion that is not assigned — enough to build four or five all-new assembly plants, if the company chooses to do so.
Next year, Toyota will move full-size Sequoia SUV production from Princeton, Ind., to San Antonio.
That decision will put both of the brand's full-size body-on-frame products — the Sequoia and the Tundra pickup — in the same plant with a shared supply base.
Toyota simultaneously will remove its midsize Tacoma pickup from San Antonio and combine it with Tacoma production at Toyota's plant in Guanajuanto, Mexico. That shift will give San Antonio more capacity to turn out additional Tundras.
The Indiana plant will then devote its freed-up capacity and resources to the Highlander crossover and Sienna minivan.
Toyota's U.S. outlook is remarkably more bullish today than it was a decade ago, when the Japanese giant suddenly found itself with too many American workers and too many American factories — an anathema to a company that trains its personnel to identify and eliminate muda, or waste, at every turn.
That moment caught Toyota with a partially constructed new-vehicle assembly plant in Tupelo, Miss., that it decided it did not need after all. It later completed that plant.
At this moment, Toyota finds itself needing both additional North American capacity and more workers.