Looking to avoid employee cuts at all costs, Toyota has announced that it will begin manufacturing the new Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV six months earlier than planned. Amid dismal SUV sales, Toyota had postponed Highlander production until May of 2010 when construction of its Highlander assembly plant in Tupelo, Mississippi would be completed.
According to management briefings, Highlander Hybrid production will be moved to Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana plant and assume it’s original fall 2009 release schedule – all in order to avoid a massive round of layoffs. Amid dismal sales figures, Toyota recently ordered a halt on production of both the Toyota Tundra pick-up truck and Sequoia SUV. When word came down, activity at both the Princeton, IN and San Antonio TX plants [responsible for Sequoia and Tundra production, respectively] was immediately idled, leaving workers with literally nothing to do. Scrambling to avoid distributing the dreaded pink slips, Toyota decided to scrap plans to wait for the Mississippi factory completions and instead change venues to the Princeton, Indiana plant. Said Toyota’s North American senior vice president Steve St.Angelo, “We need to get those people working, that’s the bottom line.” The solution is a temporary one aimed at helping Toyota ride out what is presented as a brief tight spot. Production of the Tundra and Sequoia is expected to resume as usual in November.
[Source: Automotive News]