SAN DIEGO, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Toyota will build a new assembly plant to produce pickup truck beds near the Mexican border city of Tijuana beginning in 2004, the Japanese automaker announced Friday.
The truck beds will be used in Toyota's popular Tacoma pickup trucks, which are built nearly 500 miles to the north at the New United Motor Manufacturing plant in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fremont.
"As you know, Toyota recently announced plans for selling vehicles in Mexico," Toyota North America President Toshiaki Taguchi said at a news conference held in Tijuana. "We are very excited about establishing manufacturing operations here as well."
Construction at the 700-acre site just outside Tijuana was to begin in the spring with production scheduled to begin in 2004.
Toyota declined to discuss employment figures, however the San Diego Union-Tribune said it was estimated that 200-300 employees would staff the plant; the majority will be hired from the local community.
"Baja California realizes today, in a search for regional development to benefit its inhabitants, an important project that will impact local economy and will broaden the perspectives of our state worldwide," Baja Gov. Eugenio Elorduy Walther told reporters.
Tacoma beds are presently produced at a parts plant in Long Beach, Calif., that currently employs about 500 workers. It was not clear whether the Tijuana plant would cost any U.S. jobs since the Long Beach plant produces parts other than pickup beds.
Toyota is the fourth-largest automaker in North America with nearly 33,000 employees building the Tacoma model and seven other models at eight assembly plants; the Tijuana plant will be Toyota's first facility in Mexico.
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. announced last May that it was forming a Mexican affiliate, Toyota Motor Sales de Mexico, to oversee Toyota sales in Mexico beginning in the second quarter of 2002.