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Toyota to pump $391m into US truck factory

Japanese carmaker sends Trump a reminder of its economic contributions

Toyota assembles full-size Tundra and midsize Tacoma pickup trucks in Texas.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor will invest $391 million into its Texas truck plant by 2021, in an apparent effort to stay in U.S. President Donald Trump's good books as his administration negotiates a trade deal with Japan.

The San Antonio factory has been operating since 2006 and assembles full-size Tundra and midsize Tacoma pickup trucks. Toyota plans to install new equipment and improve production efficiency.

While the overall U.S. market for new vehicles is declining, the company is raising production capacity for pickups, which are increasingly popular.

The latest announcement is part of a broader Toyota campaign to underscore its contributions to the U.S. economy, in response to President Trump's demands that companies invest more. In 2017, Toyota said it would pour a total of $10 billion into the U.S. over five years. As of this past March, the target had increased to $13 billion.

Trump is looking to sign a trade agreement with Japan in the coming weeks. Tokyo, meanwhile, wants to ensure no additional tariffs are imposed on its auto exports.

Toyota's other investments in the U.S. include a new factory in Alabama under construction with Mazda Motor.

Toyota affiliate Aisin AW on Wednesday also announced Cibolo, Texas, as the location of a planned transmission production base. It will invest up to $400 million and hire an additional 900 employees by 2023.

"I am grateful to Toyota and Aisin AW for bringing more jobs to the Lone Star State," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said of the announcements.

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