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Toyota shifting pickup production to Mexico, no US jobs lost

PRINCETON, Indiana (AP) — Toyota will stop making its Tacoma small pickup in San Antonio next year as it shifts production to Mexico, but the company says no U.S. jobs will be lost. To make up for the lost work, the San Antonio plant will build the Sequoia large SUV, and its 3,200 jobs will be preserved.

Currently the San Antonio plant builds the Tacoma as well as full-size Tundra pickups. The Tacoma also is built at a factory in Baja California, Mexico. Late last year, a Toyota plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, also began building Tacomas.

Tacoma production in San Antonio will start to wind down in late 2021, and Sequoia production will start in 2022, the company said. Last summer Toyota announced that it would invest $391 million in the San Antonio plant to add capacity to build more vehicles.

The company also announced Friday that it has completed a $1.3 billion project modernizing an Indiana factory to boost vehicle production and add 550 jobs. The project at the Princeton assembly plant in southwestern Indiana included retooling, new equipment installation and adding advanced manufacturing technology so it could increase production of the Highlander SUV. Toyota said the project grew by $700 million and 150 new jobs from what it first announced for the factory in early 2017.

Production recently began on the new 2020 Highlander at the factory, which now has about 7,000 employees and also builds Sequoia SUVs and Sienna minivans, according to the company. The plant that opened in 1998 can now build more than 420,000 vehicles a year, up from the 400,000 it built in 2016 before the modernization project began.

Toyota executives celebrated the project’s completion with a ceremony attended by Gov. Eric Holcomb at the factory about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Evansville. Sequoia production will shift to San Antonio with the Princeton factory continuing to build mid-size SUVs and minivans.

The company also announced it would spend $1 million on a new program to expose area high school students to advanced manufacturing career options. Toyota Indiana plant President Leah Curry said the program would give students a potential jump start on job opportunities in the region.

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