DETROIT — Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday that it will double the capacity of its auto assembly complex in Georgetown, Ky., and add 1,500 jobs, bringing it significantly closer to its stated goal of building 750,000 cars a year in North America by 1995.
Toyota's announcement, which was expected, was the biggest of three Japanese auto ventures in North America divulged Tuesday. The steps underscored Japan's designs on the U.S., Canadian and Mexican markets and their increasing potential as a platform for exports.
Nissan was reported to be planning a second assembly plant in Mexico to export vehicles to the United States, Canada and Japan. Mitsubishi Motors announced a small Canadian components venture with Chrysler Corp.
At news conferences in Georgetown and Tokyo, Toyota said it will spend $800 million to expand its existing car assembly and engine factories in Kentucky in order to double production of the Camry sedan to 400,000 a year.
Construction on the expansion is expected to begin in the spring, with production in the new facility to start by the end of 1993. The project would boost Toyota's employment at the complex to 4,900, the firm said.
The expansion is part of a plan to increase Toyota's exports of the Camry, according to Shohei Kurihara, executive vice president for public affairs. He said in Tokyo that the company will "actively promote exports from the Kentucky plant."
Toyota already sends more than 7,000 Camrys a year from Kentucky to Taiwan. In 1992, Kurihara said, the car maker will begin exporting up to 40,000 Camrys and 10,000 engines annually to Japan.
The last of the major Japanese auto companies to build a U.S. factory, Toyota opened its existing Georgetown complex in October, 1988. The company also is the 50% owner of a joint venture with General Motors Corp. that builds Toyota and Geo cars at a former GM assembly plant in Fremont, Calif. In addition, Toyota has a small assembly plant in Ontario, Canada.
While sales of U.S. auto makers have been declining, U.S. sales of Toyota cars and light trucks rose to 1.19 million in the first 10 months of 1990--up 31% over the same period last year.
About 30% of the vehicles Toyota sells in the United States are produced in North America. Like other Japanese auto makers, Toyota hopes to boost its proportion of locally built cars as a way to overcome protectionist sentiment here.
The $60-million Mitsubishi venture calls for the joint production of unspecified components for a new line of medium-size cars that Chrysler plans to build in Canada beginning in 1992.
The new $1-billion Nissan facility would be built near the company's engine plant in Aguascalientes, 240 miles northwest of Mexico City, the Kyodo News Service reported from Tokyo. The engine plant also would be expanded to almost double its current production of 130,000 engines a year.
The new plant would have an annual production capacity of 100,000 vehicles, 50% to 70% of which would be exported to the United States, Canada and Japan.