Toyota to build Highlander hybrid in Indiana

Toyota Motor Corp. will invest $400 million to build a hybrid version of the Highlander crossover in Princeton, Ind.

Toyota already builds the Highlander in Indiana but the hybrid Highlander has been assembled in Japan.

The automaker said Highlander output at the Indiana plant is expected to increase by about 50,000 units when the hybrid version is added by late 2013.

The plant produced 101,868 Highlander models last year, according to the Automotive News data center.

Toyota–battered by the strong Japanese yen–also said it will no longer build the Highlander in Japan by late 2013. The Highlander is also assembled in China for that market.

Toyota Motor North America President Yoshimi Inaba, in a speech Wednesday before the Economic Club of Chicago, said the hybrid Highlander will be exported to world markets from Princeton.

The investment will create 400 additional jobs at the Princeton plant, Inaba said.

After the speech, held in conjunction with the Chicago auto show, Inaba said Toyota expects hybrid Highlander sales to reach 50,000 worldwide in anticipation of a new hybrid system and higher fuel prices.

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