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Toyota announces $461m Kentucky investment

Japanese automaker intends to modernize its first U.S. factory

Officials say 1,400 temporary jobs will be converted into permanent positions as Toyota strives to improve recruiting, retain talent and create a more inclusive work environment. (Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor)

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) -- Toyota Motor is investing $461 million into its first U.S. plant to add new technology, increase production flexibility and reduce its carbon footprint, the company said Friday in a statement.

The announcement didn't include new jobs at the central Kentucky facility, but officials said 1,400 temporary jobs would be converted into permanent positions in an effort to improve recruiting, retain top talent and provide a more inclusive work environment.

Plans include upgrading the Georgetown plant with advanced manufacturing equipment and technologies that will increase speed, flexibility, and competitiveness, the statement said. That includes improvements to expand the plant's ability to manufacture new electric products.

The company also plans to add a 2.4-liter turbo engine line, which will support expanding the range of vehicles produced in North America.

"As Toyota's most experienced assembly plant in the U.S. with a workforce of about 9,000, TMMK must transform physically and strategically to meet the changing needs of customers," said Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear praised the announcement and said the state looks forward "to being a part of Toyota's future of electrification."

The plant will continue to build the Camry, Camry Hybrid and RAV4 Hybrid, but production of the Lexus ES and Lexus ES Hybrid will shift back to Japan in 2024.

The plant began its transformation in 2017 with a $1.3 billion investment to equip the facility with the Toyota New Global Architecture manufacturing platform and a new paint operation.

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