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Toyota

The entrance to the Toyota plant in Buffalo, W.Va., is shown.

BUFFALO, W.Va. — Toyota’s presence in the Mountain State is getting a major boost.

The Japanese automaker announced Thursday that Toyota Manufacturing West Virginia will invest $210 million toward its operation in Buffalo. Specifically, that means upgrading existing engine production and creating 100 jobs in order to increase assembly capacity of its four-cylinder engine line.

When complete, the total investment at the Putnam County facility will exceed $1.8 billion with more than 2,000 employees. The upgrades and additional hiring are expected to be complete in the second half of 2022.

The new jobs will create a third shift for Rav4 engine production, which should produce an additional 5,900 engines per month and more than 70,000 annually.

“(The) announcement represents Toyota’s continued commitment to our customers as well as our community,” Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia President Srini Matam said in a news release announcing the move. “We are thrilled to expand our Toyota family and continue our long-standing commitment to provide top-quality engines and transmissions for our customers.”

The 2 million-square-foot facility — which is now in its 25th year of operation — is one of 10 Toyota plants in the United States (including one set to open later this year in Alabama that is a joint venture with Mazda). Toyota also has a vehicle plant 181 miles away in Georgetown, Kentucky, that was established in 1986 and employs more than 10,000 people.

The Buffalo plant produces nearly 1 million engines and transmissions annually for North America-assembled Toyota models such as the Camry, Corolla and Highlander.

“Toyota’s commitment to increase its investment in West Virginia and into our hardworking West Virginians prove they continue to be a wonderful business partner right here in the Mountain State,” Gov. Jim Justice said in the release. “This is such exciting news for West Virginia’s business community as well as our families that businesses are choosing to grow their organizations here. Toyota is a wonderful example of how a global company can be successful right here in West Virginia.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a strong finish to 2020 for Toyota, specifically its North America division.

Last month, it reported December sales of 249,601 vehicles — a 20.4% increase in volume and a 7.5% improvement on its daily selling rate when compared to December 2019. That was a positive end to an otherwise down year in which it sold 2,112,941 units, 11.3% fewer than the previous year.

It did have a strong year with hybrid sales, however, with 337,036 units sold — a 22.7% increase from 2019. Hybrid sales accounted for nearly 16% of all Toyota sales in North America. Overall, Toyota was the top-selling retail brand in 2020 for the ninth consecutive year.

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