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2017-09-27 09:24

Image: AP / Joshua Paul

Charleston -  Toyota announced a $374-million investment Tuesday at five US plants to support production of its first American-made hybrid powertrain.

The upgrades at Toyota's factories in Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia are part of a previously announced $1- billion in US spending by the Japanese automaker. It "underscores Toyota's confidence in the capability and global competitiveness of our North American manufacturing," Jeff Moore, Toyota North America's senior vice president of manufacturing, said in a statement.

Engines used in US-made hybrid vehicles

Toyota said 2.5-litre engines made in Kentucky and transmissions produced in West Virginia will be used in North American-made hybrid vehicles, such as the Highlander SUV manufactured in Princeton, Indiana.

Toyota will create 50 jobs at its Huntsville, Alabama, plant, which will build engines for its cost-saving New Global Architecture production strategy to share common parts and components among different vehicles. None of the other upgrades announced Tuesday will result in immediate net job gains.

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The investment includes $106-million at the Huntsville plant, a $121-million expansion of a 2.5-litre engine capacity at Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky, plant, and $115-million to add hybrid vehicle transmission production in Buffalo, West Virginia.

Toyota also is investing $17-million to increase production of 2.5-litre cylinder heads at its Bodine Aluminum facility in Troy, Missouri. A $14.5-million upgrade at a Bodine plant in Jackson, Tennessee, will accommodate production of hybrid transmission cases and housings and 2.5-litre engine blocks.

"This investment is part of our long-term commitment to build more vehicles and components in the markets in which we sell them," said Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz.

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