WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia's first vehicle assembly plant is up and running.
The first vehicle made at Hino Motors Manufacturing USA. Inc.'s Williamstown plant was a white truck that already had competing purchase offers from the town of Williamstown and the Wood County Development Authority, said Joe Chronley, the plant's general manager.
Hino, a subsidiary of Toyota Group, announced in June it would take over the former Walker Systems plant. Company officials then said that they would invest $8.6 million to renovate the building and hoped to have the plant open by mid-November.
Workers already have produced 25 light- and medium-duty trucks as part of their training. Those vehicles will be sold, as will the first official vehicles to roll off the assembly line Monday, Chronley said.
The plant employs 72 workers and will start production with two trucks per day, he said. The goal is to increase that to 20 per day. The plant is operating one shift, Monday through Friday.
Hino is a relatively small player in the American commercial truck market. A truck engineered for the U.S. market was introduced in 2003, Chronley said.
Williamstown, on the Ohio River in Wood County, suffered from the closure in 2005 of Walker Systems, which employed about 300 workers and manufactured wire and cable management and distribution systems. More than 4,000 people applied for jobs with Hino.
Hino's American headquarters is located in Farmington Hills, Mich. The company operates a parts plant in Arkansas and manufacturing plant in California.
Toyota also operates an engine and transmission plant in Buffalo, Putnam County.