DETROIT – Pre-productionCamry units now are being built at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc.’s plant in Lafayette, IN.
in 2005 bought an 8.7% stake in Subaru maker Heavy Industries from Corp.
The plan to eventually build 100,000 Camrys annually at the SIA plant is “coming along very well,” Gary Convis, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Mfg. North America Inc., says.
“We’re in our 1A pilot build at this time,” he tells Ward’s on the sidelines of the 2007 North American International Auto Show here.
“With the success of the Camry, we’ve actually added some incremental volume to the original plan,” he says. “We could probably add another 2,000, 3,000 units in the next six to eight months.”
Convis has no comment on recent reports Toyota will announce an eighth North American manufacturing plant in the near future, but says it’s important the auto maker not “overrun” its capacity.
“But there is an important desire from our side to make more (vehicles), so we’re going to do it as soon as we can,” he says.
Toyota’s production resources are stretched thin right now, with the new San Antonio Tundra truck plant just having come online, Camry production beginning at SIA and the new RAV4 plant in Woodstock, ON, Canada.
“We have so much going on right now that it’s challenging to make sure we execute it right,” Convis says.
He declines to say whether Toyota is interested in taking over an existing plant from one of Detroit’s Big Three auto makers or establishing another joint venture similar to the one withCorp., New United Motor Mfg. Inc. in Fremont, CA.
“We don’t exclude anything,” Convis says. “We’ve been very successful at greenfield operations, and we’re pretty comfortable with those kinds of decisions. We do consider all the other possibilities, but I can’t comment whether those would be in our cards right now.”
However, Convis does say expansion of an existing Toyota engine facility appears to be more likely than building a new plant.