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Toyota to build Lexus NX luxury SUV at Ontario assembly plant

Toyota will soon build a new vehicle in Canada, adding the Lexus NX luxury SUV to its Ontario assembly plants as of 2022.

Company currently makes RAV4 crossover in Cambridge and Woodstock, Ont.

Toyota will soon start making the Lexus NX at its plant in Cambridge, Ont. ( Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)

Toyota will soon build a new vehicle in Canada, adding the Lexus NX luxury SUV to its Ontario assembly plants as of 2022.

The company made the announcement at an event at its Cambridge, Ont., facility on Monday.

Currently the factory, along with a plant in nearby Woodstock, Ont., produces the Toyota RAV4 crossover vehicle, and two versions of the Lexus RX.

A new assembly line at the Cambridge facility will be added to build the new vehicle starting in three years. Both a gas and gas-electric hybrid will be produced at the site.

Previously, both versions of the NX were produced in Japan. So the Canadian-made versions will be the first ones ever made outside Toyota's home country.

"It means that Toyota's Canadian manufacturing operations are here to stay," Toyota Canada president Fred Volf said. "It means that we will continue to be a leader in Canada and globally."

The company did not specify how much money the company was planning to invest, or how many jobs the new production might mean when it starts. But in an interview with CBC News, Volf said it provides stability to the plant looking ahead.

"There's many ways to produce more vehicles," he said. "You can speed up the line, you may add labour, you may add technology, you could also do more vehicles by working overtime."

"That's what you look at before you decide [on] major capital investment or committing to people in the long term that maybe you can keep sustained."

The move comes as the car making industry in Ontario has been waylaid in recent months by General Motors's decision last November to shutter its Oshawa facility, and Chrysler's decision last month to cut a shift at its Windsor assembly plant, leading to 1,500 job losses.

Last year, Toyota committed to spending $1.4 billion at its Canadian facilities in Cambridge and nearby Woodstock, Ont. , switching them over to what it calls its New Global Architecture — a status that allows them to be nimble enough to easily accept new work.

The federal government met Toyota's commitment with its own $110 million investment at the time.

But doubt was cast on Toyota's intentions in Ontario when the company moved some RAV4 production to a plant in Georgetown, Ky., so Monday's news is largely being seen as a vote of confidence in Toyota's continuing presence.

"This announcement says very loudly that Toyota trusts its reputation wholeheartedly to the workers, supply chain and business environment in Canada," Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, told CBC News.

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