Toyota Motor Corp. will invest $803 million into its assembly plant in Princeton, Ind., and add 1,400 jobs there to build a new pair of three-row utility vehicles for Toyota and Lexus that will "join a diverse, electrified product portfolio."
The automaker did not identify the vehicles, but it said in an announcement on Wednesday that they would each carry up to eight passengers and feature "a semi-automated driving system — which will allow for hands-free driving in certain conditions — a remote parking system allowing the driver to park and unpark from outside the vehicle using a smartphone, and a digital key that turns a user's smartphone into their key and allows them to share it digitally."
Lexus dealers have long asked for a large, three-row crossover to compete with offerings from other luxury brands, while Toyota dealers have been looking for a product to replace the Land Cruiser, which is ending its long run in the U.S.
Toyota said the $803 million will be used "to prepare the manufacturing line for the new vehicles, production-employee training, as well as provide supplier re-tooling at their facilities."
The plant, which made the Toyota Tundra pickup when production began in 1998, has two lines that build Sienna minivans, Highlander crossovers and Sequoia SUVs. Production of the Sequoia there is scheduled to end in 2022, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center. The facility has capacity to assemble more than 420,000 vehicles annually.
Before this announcement, Toyota had invested more than $6.6 billion into the plant, which will eventually employ more than 8,400 workers.
"Over the past 20 years, Toyota has led the way with more electrified vehicles on the road than all automakers combined," Ted Ogawa, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, said in a written statement. "This investment and new vehicle line-up will allow us to continue our work with electrification, expand our portfolio to around 70 models globally by 2025, and meet the needs of our customers while we accelerate towards carbon neutrality."