Even the mighty Toyota is suffering from the scourge of the high Yen. It just does not make much sense to build cars in Japan for export to the US. Especially SUVs like the Highlander, which in Japan is called the Kluger.
While the Highlander has been a solid performer in the US market, Japanese consumers are just not as excited about SUVs as their US counterparts. So with the bulk of production from the Fukuoka factory heading out of the country anyway, Toyota decided it was time to pull the plug and shift the entire production apparatus to the US from 2013.
The Fukuoka factory made 37,000 Highlanders last year, with 4,200 of these being the frugal-for-an-SUV hybrid model. The Highlander Hybrid will be the second hybrid model to have its production transferred to the US after the Camry hybrid. In both these cases it’s easy to see how the relative locations of production and sale were mismatched — especially in the case of the Camry Hybrid that was never even offered for sale in Japan.
So it’s big news for Indiana, but as far as Toyota is concerned a minor rationalization: I can’t see them moving core hybrid production such as that of the Prius out of Japan any time soon — even with the exchange rates as they are. There’s just too much national and corporate pride at stake.
Source: NHK (Japanese-language)leave a response, trackback from your own site