Sales of the RAV4 are down five percent so far in 2012, but that won't stop Toyota from increasing North American production. Automotive News reports that Toyota will spend $80 million to retool its Woodstock, Ontario plant to increase production from 150,000 crossovers per year to 200,000. The increased production will also lead to the hiring of an additional 400 workers at the plant.
Some speculate that Toyota is ramping up North American production to combat the high Japanese yen. Only 13 percent of the RAV4s sold in North America in 2012 have been Japanese imports. Toyota has steadily decreased its reliance on Japanese plants in general; it's only building 35 percent of its vehicles in Japan this year, compared to 53 percent in 2006.
Toyota spokeswoman Carly Schaffner tells AN that there are currently no plans to build the RAV4 exclusively in North America. Schaffner says that the reason for the production increase is that Toyota is finally able to get enough supplies to the plants after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan a year ago. That said, Toyota has already moved all Highlander production to North America and could do likewise for the RAV4 if localized demand for it warrants a similar move.
It's also important to remember that the RAV4, basically unchanged for several years, is due for a makeover, so the plant upgrade might coincide with a model refresh.