Toyota mulls raising N. America production

Aug. 8, 2012 at 2:35 PM
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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Toyota Motor Corp. is considering shifting more production to North America to help ease the impact of the rising yen, the Japanese automaker's U.S. chief said.

Jim Lentz, Toyota's U.S. president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday the company is considering the financial benefits of moving production of a high volume vehicle, possibly the luxury Lexus ES sedan, from Japan, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"The ES is now built out of Japan, so that would be something we would look at," Lentz said told the Journal during an automotive conference in Traverse City, Mich. "Everything is on the table."

The ES is the second-highest volume vehicle in the Lexus line.

A strong yen chips away at the price competitiveness of Japanese-made products exported abroad, meaning some companies can lose money on vehicles they ship.

Two weeks ago, Toyota announced plans to stop exporting the Lexus RX to North America from Japan, saying it would build all of the vehicles in North America. The company said it would invest $98.3 million to boost production capacity at its Cambridge, Ontario, plant, possibly as soon as 2014.

Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., plant would be the likely production home for the Lexus ES because the factory produces the Camry, which shares the same underpinnings as the Lexus model, the Journal said. Lentz declined comment on whether the company would build a new plant in the United States.

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