Toyota investing $1.4B in Ontario manufacturing plants

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne were in Cambridge, Ont., at a Toyota plant for the announcement of a $1.4-billion a shot in the arm for Ontario's auto manufacturing sector.
Toyota says it is investing $1.4 billion as it moves to produce its RAV4 model, seen in in this March 2018 photo at the New York Auto Show, at its Ontario facilities in Cambridge and Woodstock. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne were in Cambridge, Ont., on Friday at a Toyota plant for the announcement of a $1.4-billion a shot in the arm for Ontario's auto manufacturing sector.

Trudeau said the governments of Canada and Ontario are each kicking in $110 million.

Toyota said the money will be invested in its Cambridge North plant and its West plant in Woodstock, Ont to give it flexibility in its vehicle manufacturing.  The company will also invest $200 million in Canadian research and development over ten years. 

Shifting production

The Woodstock, Ont., plant builds Toyota's RAV4. 

The Cambridge plant is slated to focus on building the RAV4 after production of the Corolla, which is currently built there, eventually moves to a facility in Alabama. Toyota says more than 4 million Corollas have been built in Cambridge.

Trudeau said the investment will help secure 8,000 existing jobs and the addition of 450 new jobs. He said the funding will also help keep Canada's auto sector competitive.

Wynne said the move by Toyota makes Cambridge and Woodstock the hub for RAV4 production and gives "a vote of confidence" in the workforce at the facilities.

Toyota also builds the Lexus RX 350 and the RX 450h at another facility in Cambridge.

With another round of NAFTA talks slated to begin next week, the auto sector has been a major point of the negotiations, with heavy focus on the issue of North American content.

Toyota originally planned to move Corolla production to Mexico. However, following a threat by U.S. President Donald Trump to slap on a "border tax" on vehicles shipped into the U.S., Toyota said in Jan. 2018 that it would build a redesigned Corolla at a new Toyota-Mazda joint venture plant in Huntsville, Ala., that is slated to open in 2021.