Toyota adds production in Ontario as sales pick up

Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:39pm EST
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Co said on Thursday it will add a second production shift at its Woodstock, Ontario, assembly plant, bringing more than 800 jobs to the Canadian province and pointing to a recovery in the battered North American auto sector.

The company said it is increasing production of the RAV4 to 150,000 vehicles a year to meet the strong demand. It has made about 80,000 of the compact crossover utility vehicles at the plant so far this year, 60,000 of which have been shipped to the United States.

Sales of the RAV4 in North America are up 4 percent so far this year over last year, while the total automotive industry is down about 26 percent, Ray Tanguay, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, said in an interview.

"This is also a vote of confidence that the market is recovering," he said, pointing to improving overall sales in the United States in November.

"I think all of us (automakers) will see a slow growth in 2010," he said.

Hiring at the plant in Woodstock, a small city of around 36,000, about 140 km (88 miles) southwest of Toronto, begins this week. There are currently about 1,200 employees there.

Tanguay said the production increase would also mean more jobs in the supply chain. "We have about 195 suppliers in North America that will gain from this announcement."

Between six and seven spin-off jobs, from suppliers to the service industry, are created for every auto manufacturing job.   Continued...

<p>The new Toyota RAV4 is seen at the newly built Toyota automobile assembly plant in Woodstock, about 130 km (81 miles) southwest of Toronto, Ontario, December 4, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>