January 23, 2013 / 4:55 PM / 6 years ago

Canada and Ontario invest to re-tool Toyota Lexus plant

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty speaks during an announcement at the Lexus Assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario, January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Geoff Robins

(Reuters) - The Canadian and Ontario governments will invest nearly C$34 million ($34 million) to help re-tool a Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) plant in Cambridge, Ontario, so it can produce a hybrid version of the Lexus sport utility vehicle.

It will be the first hybrid to be built in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in announcing the investment at the southern Ontario plant on Wednesday, along with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The federal and provincial governments will each provide C$16.9 million. “Our government is committed to helping Canada’s automotive sector remain globally competitive and prosperous,” Harper said.

The government funds will form part of Toyota’s plan, announced last July, to invest more than C$100 million to expand Lexus production in Canada.

The expansion will increase Lexus manufacturing capacity by 30,000 vehicles to 104,000 units, including 15,000 Lexus RX450h hybrid electric vehicles, and create 400 new jobs at the Cambridge plant.

The Cambridge factory is the only Toyota factory outside of Japan that makes Lexus models.

The funds provided by Ottawa will come from its Automotive Innovation Fund, which was set up in 2008 with an initial C$250 million of government money for research and development projects in Canada’s auto industry. The government earlier this month injected another C$250 million into the fund and extended it for five years.

Reporting By Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Peter Galloway and Leslie Adler

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