Toyota boosts Lexus production in Canada

Japanese automaker Toyota said Tuesday it will boost production of its Lexus luxury vehicles in Canada, bringing total annual assembly capacity in the country to 500,000.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. will invest Can$100 million (US$97.9 million) and hire approximately 400 people to increase Lexus RX production at its Cambridge, Ontario plant, the company said.

It is Toyota's second major investment in Canada this year, and will increase by 30,000 its Lexus RX assembly capacity to 104,000 units, including the hybrid electric version of the sport utility vehicle (SUV).

As well, it will take Toyota's annual Canadian production capacity to 500,000 units -- equal to the combined total of rivals General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Honda, according to Industry Canada statistics.

"For almost nine years now, Canada has had the only Lexus production outside of Japan," said Ray Tanguay, chairman of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada.

"Canada is a great place to build vehicles," said Industry Minister Christian Paradis in a statement.

"And we will continue to encourage investment by providing tax relief, eliminating tariffs on machinery and equipment, and creating an environment that promotes innovation, research and development."

In March, Toyota boosted production of its RAV4 SUV from 150,000 to 200,000 annually at its Woodstock, Ontario, assembly plant, relying on a Can$80 million investment that resulted in 400 new jobs.

Toyota, which started the year with 6,500 employees in Canada, is targeting early 2014 for the expanded Lexus production.

The company also assembles Corolla, Matrix and RAV4 vehicles in Canada for sale throughout North America.

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