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Toyota Adds Engine Plant to Its Kentucky Complex

November 10, 1987|PAUL RICHTER | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Toyota Motor Co. announced plans on Monday to add a $300-million engine plant to the $800-million auto manufacturing complex it is building in Georgetown, Ky.

At a news conference in New York, Toyota Chairman Eiji Toyoda said concerns about the declining dollar had caused the Japanese auto maker to "greatly accelerate" its construction schedule for the plant.

Toyota has raised the base price of some auto models more than 25% in the United States since early 1985, reflecting the continuing decline of the dollar against the yen. The dollar has fallen nearly 50% against the yen during that period, and many analysts believe that foreign auto makers will be forced to raise their prices even higher.

But Toyoda said that the company has already raised prices "considerably" and that it has no plans to raise them further. The fall of the dollar "puts us in a very awkward position," he added. "We don't know what steps we can take to deal with it."

300 Already Hired

Toyoda said the plant will produce axles and steering components, as well as engines, and will increase expected employment at the Georgetown site by 500 workers, to 3,500.

The company owns an auto plant jointly with General Motors in Fremont, Calif., but the Georgetown plant will be its first wholly owned venture in the United States.

Toyota expects to begin turning out its mid-size Camry automobiles in Georgetown in mid-1988, and to have the engine factory under way in 1991. The company, which has already hired 300 at the site, expects 75% of the components in the automobile to be American-built.

Toyoda declined to speculate on how governments might ease strains in the international economy, but said that a lowering of the U.S. federal budget defict and a simultaneous reduction of Japanese interest rates "may not necessarily be a wrong thought."

Toyota, the world's third largest auto maker, employs 2,500 in its U.S. auto distribution arm, and another 2,000 at the plant it operates jointly with GM in Fremont.

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