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Toyota to build Lexus in Kentucky, add 750 jobs

Apr. 20, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- Toyota will start building the Lexus ES 350 at a factory in Georgetown, Ky., starting in 2015, producing a luxury brand vehicle for the first time in the United States.

The Japanese car company said Friday that the Georgetown plant will build about 50,000 of the flagship sedans each year, creating 750 new jobs.

The Georgetown plant currently assembles the Camry, Avalon and Venza models as well as their hybrid counterparts. The plant already employs about 6,600 people.

Toyota said it will invest $360 million to build the Lexus assembly line, boosting Georgetown's annual vehicle production to 550,000 a year. The company made the announcement at simultaneous news conferences Friday in New York and Georgetown.

"It is fitting that the first country to build the ES outside of Japan is the United States," Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda, the company's top executive, said in New York. "This is the home for Lexus. It was where the brand was founded and it is still the biggest market for the luxury brand."

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Toyota would invest a total of $531 million in the Georgetown plant. The remaining $171 million will be spent over several years to modernize the factory, which is 26 years old, said Jim Lentz, the company's North American CEO.

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