Toyota will bring hybrid transaxle production to the U.S.

Toyota assembles several hybrid models in North America but has been using hybrid transaxles (transmissions) imported from Japan.

The automaker’s $374 million investment in five U.S. plants to localize hybrid powertrain components will benefit its Buffalo, WV, transmission plant (which accounts for $115 million of the investment), as well as Toyota’s Georgetown, KY, ($121 million) and Huntsville, AL, ($106 million) engine plants. Georgetown will see increased production of 2.5L engines and Huntsville gets an upgrade to build engines complementing Toyota’s new global architecture (TNGA).

Supplier Bodine’s Jackson, TN, ($14.5 million) plant will produce hybrid-transaxle cases and housings as well as 2.5L engine blocks and Bodine’s Troy, MO, ($17.1 million) plant will see increased 2.5L cylinder-head output.

Toyota says the new investment moves it halfway to its promised U.S. investment of $10 billion announced by CEO Akio Toyoda in January.

Work on the facilities begins this year with a scheduled completion date of 2020. Huntsville is the only plant expected to add jobs, with 50 new positions slated.

Toyota says the powertrains will go into its North America-built hybrids including the Highlander Hybrid CUV assembled in Princeton, IN. Toyota also makes the Camry and Avalon hybrids in Georgetown and the Lexus RX hybrid in Ontario, Canada.

Toyota is due to bring RAV4 hybrid production to Ontario in 2019.

All the aforementioned models, minus the 3.5L V-6 RX, use 2.5L hybrid powertrains.

While U.S. sales of the Highlander Hybrid were up 197.1% through August to 11,099, the other models have seen steep declines in the same period, with the Avalon down 36.6%, WardsAuto data shows.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com