July 24, 2012 / 2:22 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 2-Toyota to expand Lexus production in Canada

* Japanese automaker will invest more than $100 mln

* Toyota will hire an extra 400 workers at Ontario plant

* Investment will boost Lexus capacity in Canada by 40 pct

July 24 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp said Tuesday it will invest more than $100 million to expand Lexus production in Canada as the Japanese automaker tries to soften the impact of a stronger yen, which makes manufacturing goods in Japan more expensive.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada will hire an additional 400 workers at its Cambridge, Ontario, plant, which builds the Lexus RX sports-utility vehicle. It is the only Toyota factory outside of Japan that makes Lexus models.

The Cambridge plant will have the capacity to build 104,000 RX models a year by early 2014, up from 74,000 currently.

The RX, which is offered in both gasoline and hybrid versions, is one of the most popular luxury crossover vehicles sold in North America.

U.S. sales in the first half rose 10.5 percent to 44,017.

As part of the expansion, the Cambridge facility will begin building the Lexus RX 450h hybrid. The plant will be able to produce 15,000 RX hybrids a year.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported earlier on Tuesday that Toyota is considering transferring production of about 30,000 RX SUVs to Canada from its Miyata factory in southern Japan.

The total number of vehicles produced at the Miyata plant would likely be unchanged, as other models would be made instead of the RX, a source, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak about the matter, told Reuters.

This is the second expansion in Canada by Toyota this year. In March, Toyota said it will invest C$80 million ($78.62 million) in Canada to increase production of its RAV4 SUVs at its Woodstock, Ontario, assembly plant, adding 400 jobs.

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