Akio Toyoda, President of Japan’s Toyota Motor, has stated that regardless of the direction taken by the company, Toyota will “never leave the United States,” according to Nikkei Asian Review. The statement was given as part of a speech to the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., just a day after Toyota announced new investments worth nearly $750 million in its US operations.
The recent investment and reinforced commitment to the USA comes amid rising pressure from US President Donald Trump to boost American manufacturing, and continued threats of increased tariffs on foreign automotive imports. With Toyoda’s visit to Washington, the automaker is thought to have sought to emphasise its contributions to the US economy ahead of planned trade negotiations between the US and Japan in April.
Speaking through an interpreter, Toyoda outlined Toyota’s history and the recent induction of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda into the U.S. Automotive Hall of Fame. While he did not directly mention the topic of the US’s import tariffs, he thanked the US for playing a key role in the company’s success and went on to state, “I just don’t know why they call [imported vehicles] a national security threat. That really makes me feel sad. I hope that this kind of conversation can go away.”
Toyoda added that by 2021, the company will have made a total investment of $13 billion in its US operations, including expansion of its production facilities in Alabama, exceeding its 2017 promise to invest $10 billion over five years. The new investments include adding Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Lexus ES 300 Hybrid vehicle production at its Georgetown, Kentucky, manufacturing plant; expanding engine capacity at its Huntsville, Alabama, facility; doubling hybrid transaxle capacity at its plant in Buffalo, West Virginia,; and a building expansion for additional castings at Bodine Aluminum’s Jackson, Tennessee, facility, as well as additional castings at its Troy, Montana, facility.
On the announcement of the company’s expanded US investment, Jim Lentz, CEO, Toyota Motor North America, commented, “These latest investments represent even more examples of our long-term commitment to build where we sell. By boosting our US manufacturing footprint, we can better serve our customers and dealers and position our manufacturing plants for future success with more domestic capacity.”