Toyota Canada will begin producing Lexus crossover vehicles at its facility in Cambridge, Ont., a significant win for the Canadian auto industry at a time of concern for its decline.
The Japanese automaker confirmed on Monday that it will begin producing the Lexus NX and the hybrid version of the vehicle at the company’s Cambridge facility beginning in 2022. The plant has additional capacity, as production of the hydrid RAV4 SUV has shifted from Cambridge to Georgetown, Kentucky.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada’s president Fred Volf said at a press conference on Monday that the announcement means Toyota’s manufacturing is “here to stay” in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Deputy Premier Christine Elliott were both on hand for the announcement, which was first reported by Bloomberg last week.
“This company understands what Canada brings to the table as we compete in a global marketplace,” Trudeau said.
Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association (APMA), said the investment was a vote of confidence in not only the Ontario’s plant, but in the trade deal Canada has pursued, including the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (which has to be ratified) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe.
“This is the world’s biggest automaker choosing to produce its No. 2 selling premium vehicle alongside its No. 1 selling premium vehicle in Ontario,” Volpe said.
“That is as clear as day. It’s a vote of confidence in the value proposition in making cars in this province.”
While the plant will still be producing the same volume of vehicles, Volpe expects there may be an increase in supplier purchases out of the plant as a result of the product shift.
Monday’s announcements comes about a year after the Japanese automaker unveiled it would be investing $1.4 billion to upgrade two its manufacturing plants in Cambridge and Woodstock, Ont. where the popular RAV4 sports utility vehicle is produced. The federal and Ontario governments each contributed $110 million towards the upgrade.
The several months have been somewhat tumultuous for the Canadian automotive industry.
Concerns about the future of the Canadian auto industry – particularly the manufacturing sector – were heightened in November when General Motors announced it would stop production at its historic assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont. The closure of the Oshawa Assembly Plant, scheduled to occur in December this year, would mean a loss of nearly 3,000 jobs.
Last month, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced it would be laying off 1,500 workers in Windsor to “better align with global demand.”