Late last week came a significant announcement from Toyota, as the company stated that it is putting $1.4 billion into refitting and renovating its Ontario plants so they can produce the next-generation 2019 RAV4, including the hybrid variant of the popular utility model.
The announcement was actually made conjointly by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne at Toyota’s North Plant in Cambridge. For Premier Wynne in particular, Toyota’s investment comes at an opportune time, with a provincial election scheduled for June 7.
Of the total amount being invested, some $200 million will come from the two levels of government in roughly equal proportions.
The RAV4 has been assembled at Toyota’s Woodstock plant since 2008. For quite some time the manufacturer has been planning to assemble the model also at the Cambridge plant. That has now been made possible by the transfer of production of the Corolla models south of the border, more specifically to a new plant in Alabama, operated jointly by Toyota and Mazda.
Among other things, the influx of money into the Ontario facilities will go to installing new automation technologies in the paint and plastics departments. The renovations and upgrades should be completed in 2019. Toyota’s investment also guarantees that 8,000 jobs will be maintained in Ontario, with 450 additional jobs and 1,000 indirect coop placements being added as well.
Other big news contained within the announcement concerns the hybrid variant of the RAV4, first unveiled at the New York auto show earlier this year. Assembly of the hybrid version had been restricted to Japan, but it will be built at the renovated Ontario facilities.
Things promise to be hopping at the Ontario plants for the 2019 RAV4. The current model was Toyota’s best-selling vehicle in Canada last year, and fully one-quarter of those sold were hybrids. What’s more, the RAV4 attracted over 400,000 buyers in the U.S. in 2017; the only models to outsell it were the big three manufacturers' pickup models.
The fifth-generation 2019 RAV4 will debut at Canadian dealerships towards the end of this year, with the hybrid variant following early in 2019.