• Aug 12, 2008
Click above for high-res pics of the 2008 Toyota Highlander from our review

Up to this point, all Highlanders destined for the U.S. have been built in Japan. Toyota had planned to start building a new, redesigned Highlander in late 2009 at its plant in Tupelo, Mississippi, a factory that is still under construction, but the rapidly slumping SUV market prompted it to postpone the vehicle's redesign to 2010. Things change quickly in this business, however, and because its plant in Princeton, Indiana that builds the full-size Tundra is now sitting idle, Toyota has decided to use that capacity to start building the Highlander in the fall of 2009. The Tupelo plant, meanwhile, will instead start building the Prius here in the U.S. when its construction is completed in 2010. All this flip flopping of production can be done because of the flexible manufacturing that was built into each of Toyota's plants, and the positive end result is that its workers can keep working rather than sitting at home without a paycheck.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]


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  • 18 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Highlander was just redesigned for the 2008 model year, why would they start producing another redesign? Are you sure they aren't going to produce the current model?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'll assume the workers are pleased they get to keep working.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Better buy the Highlander now. I don't trust those townies
      building these things.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Indiana plant also builds the Sienna minivan. Toyota also builds Camrys at the Subaru plant in Lafayette, Indiana
      • 6 Years Ago
      Toyota's plant engineering is why Toyota posts a 4 Billion gain while GM posts a 12 billion loss. Toyota and honda both can reconfigure their plants. Ford and GM cannot. This is a major advantage.

      Funny how Ford invented the assembly line but doesnt have a modular factory like Toyota
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well, they do actually have flex plants - see Oakville for Ford as well as Oshawa (well, soon) for GM. Also, the Mustang and Mazda 6 are built on the same line...

        I'm not defending the big 3's lack of investment in their plants, but it would be nice to not have complete BS always posted here.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I read recently that Ford and GM both are spending millions to converte dedicated truck plants over to produce cars. Ford in particular was going to have to spend 250mil converting F-150 plants to create cars.
        ok found the link
        http://www.autoblog.com/2008/06/11/desperate-times-ford-will-retool-truck-plants-to-build-cars/

        " to discuss switching factories from truck to car production. Such a move is much easier to make in one of Toyota or Honda's flexible manufacturing plants, but Ford has plenty of facilities that are hardwired to build only one or two products. Analysts say that costs could be $250 million a year or more, which would make for a huge dent in Ford's already shrinking bank account."
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ford has multiple flexible manufacturing facilities. Anything that was renovated in the last several years. Chicago, Dearborn, Oakville, probably some others.

        Toyota/Honda have far fewer plants here and most of them are newer than the domestics' newest plants. With fewer plants and the desire to final assemble more product near to where it sells, it made sense for them to make them flexible off the bat whereas companies like Ford have plants that are decades old and were not ready to just drop the investment on a line that had producing a specific layout of vehicle for years.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As much as I hate yota's, I have to admit that their flexible plants are a pretty damn good idea.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yokels from Mississippi building the high tech Prius? What is the world comming to?. Just kidding, good for the Mississippi plant, the Prius has more lasting power than the horrid Hylander. Smart move.
      • 6 Years Ago
      They are not as modular as they would have you believe. The plant in Princeton has two lines, one for Tundra and one for Sienna, which is based off the Camry. So they stop building one truck and start building another. The other line can only build Siennas or Camrys. It not like they can build the Corolla or the Matrix on that line. Even building the Highlander on the the Tundra line will take time to reconfigure or they would be doing it already.

      Real flex is when you can build two different platforms on the same line at the same time.

      http://www.allpar.com/corporate/flexible-manufacturing.html
      • 6 Years Ago
      Good for Toyota, the Highlander isn't a horrible vehicle, I've driven one for a couple weeks and it is very well put together. It almost renders the RX350 useless, as it has the exact same level of refinement. I guess the RX350 is for the crowd that needs the Lexus badge.

      The only problem I had w/ the Highlander is that it doesn't have much of a personality, not that the segment leaders (IMHO) CX-9/Acadia do....the Highlander is just so vanilla compared to the CX-9/Acadia.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The RX350 is 100z better looking than the Wnderbread of cars, Hylander. It is a fine car for sure but boring to the max.
        • 6 Years Ago
        considering that a fully loaded highlander tips 40k id rather spend a couple thousand more and get the lexus. much better looks, and a better resale value.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Toyota Highlander is a gas guzzle that just as bad as the GM Hummer. Why the media don't pick on it just for that reason is beyond me. I could pick on it for many other reasons besides being a gas guzzler. I guess Toyota is as slippery as Teflon.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If only the domestics were this flexible then we would probably have a lot less unemployed auto workers.
        • 6 Years Ago
        GOTTA LOVE THE UNIONS!!! Toyota, with no union membership, does more to help it's employees stay employees then the big 3(ish) do any day.
        • 6 Years Ago
        How are they not flexible? Ford is going to convert truck plants over to build smaller cars.

        Now if the Big 3 had the money that Toyota has, I am sure they would build more plants here or at least convert more to build smaller cars.

        And yes, the UAW does NOT help.
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