GEORGETOWN, Ky. - Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday morning that Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky will be the first-ever U.S. production site for the Lexus ES 350 model, the world's top-selling Lexus sedan.
The automaker will invest $360 million to expand its Georgetown, Ky., plant for the Lexus production, which will create 750 jobs. TMMK plans to produce about 50,000 of the vehicles a year starting in 2015. Toyota also will invest another $171.2 million in other plant upgrades, the governor said in a news release.
"Since its arrival here in 1986, the impact Toyota has had on Kentucky has been immeasurable, and the addition of Lexus production only adds to that enduring legacy," Beshear said in the release.
He noted that production for the Lexus also will create an opportunity for Kentucky to expand and strengthen its automotive supplier base. TMMK uses more than 350 suppliers across the U.S., including about 100 in Kentucky, according to the company.
WCPO Digital reported Wednesday that Toyota was considering a major expansion at its Kentucky plant. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) gave preliminary approval Wednesday to $146.5 million in economic incentives to encourage the project.
Toyota's Georgetown facility is the company's largest manufacturing plant outside of Japan. It employs about 6,700 people.
"It is fitting that the first country to build the ES outside of Japan is the United States because this is home for Lexus. It's where the brand was founded and is still the biggest market for our luxury brand," Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, said in the release. "It is also fitting that we chose Kentucky because it was Toyota's first stand-alone plant in America. So in a way, for manufacturing, Kentucky is Toyota's home."