Not content with its recent market-share gains versus its U.S. counterparts, Toyota Motor appears poised to open an eighth North American manufacturing plant in an effort to grab a bigger slice of the pie.
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported Thursday that Toyota may name as early as this month a site in the Southern U.S. for the plant, an indication the auto giant is looking to take even more market share in the U.S.
The paper said Toyota has narrowed its site search to five locations, including Chattanooga, Tenn., Marion, Ark., the Alamo, Tenn., area, and a spot in North Carolina. The company already has large facilities in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky.
Citing the source, the Journal said the latest facility would have manufacturing capacity of 200,000 vehicles per year and would begin production in 2009. The plant would likely make the next-generation Toyota Highlander SUV.
The source also said Toyota has postponed building a new engine plant in the United States and will probably instead expand its existing engine-manufacturing plants in the U.S., perhaps by enlarging its plant in Alabama.
On Wednesday, Ford and GM posted sharp declines in their December U.S. auto sales, while Toyota said its sales surged. Toyota is now the third-largest auto maker in the United States, and is closing in on No. 2 Ford.