Toyota Motor Corp. will invest $10bn in the United States over the next five years, its president, Akio Toyoda, announced at a Detroit auto show last Monday.
The announcement came days after US President-elect Donald Trump criticised Toyota’s plan to build a new factory in Mexico and expressed his intention to impose a de facto heavy tariff on the automaker if production is not carried out in the United States.
Toyota apparently aims to fend off such criticism by stressing its contribution to the US economy with a hefty investment.
An executive of Toyota’s US unit told reporters that the company would not cancel the plan to build the plant in Mexico.
Referring to the company’s total amount of $22bn investment in the United States over the past 60 years, Toyoda stressed the company’s plan to increase the pace and scale of investment in the US. He also said Toyota has helped the US economy by creating about 136,000 jobs in the country.
However, he did not elaborate on the planned investment of $10bn.
The automaker last Monday also unveiled a plan to introduce a new design and production method for its major new model of Camry sedan. Part of the investment is likely to be used for the model. Toyota is also conducting research and development on artificial intelligence for self-driving technology in California and other locations while a new headquarters is being constructed in Texas to consolidate US operations. The large investment appears to fund these existing plans as well.
In the wake of Trump’s growing criticism of moving US manufacturing jobs abroad, automakers have rushed to announce investment plans in the United States.
Last Sunday, Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced a plan to invest about $1bn in two US plants through 2020.
US automaker Ford Motor Co. scrapped a plan to build a new factory in Mexico and then announced a plan to boost the production capacity at its Michigan plant.
Trump praised FCA and Ford for the investment plans, saying, ‘Thank you’ in a tweet last Monday.
Ford Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields told reporters in Detroit last Monday he hopes the Trump administration will set out policies friendly to the US manufacturing sector.
Meanwhile, General Motors Co CEO Mary Barra said on the same day that GM has no plans to shift small-car production to the United States from Mexico as the decisions on production were made four years ago with high capital-intensive investments.