SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Toyota is investing $391 million in the truck assembly plant in San Antonio’s South Side.
While there was no mention of new jobs, Chris Reynolds, Toyota Motor North America chief administrative officer, said the investment will make the plant more competitive and more efficient, while remaining flexible with multi-vehicle production capabilities.
“It’s all part of our $13 billion commitment Toyota made to invest in our U.S. operations over a 5-year period through 2021,” Reynolds said.
That’s despite the threat of steep U.S. tariffs on imported automobiles and components.
“We’re not a national security threat, we’re a national security guaranty,” Reynolds said Tuesday afternoon, drawing applause from the crowd at the local Toyota plant.
In an interview after the news conference, Reynolds said the tariff situation and the trade wars really don’t provide the best environment for growth, but Toyota’s decisions are not based on the short term.
“Hopefully a year from now, no one will be talking about tariffs and trade wars, so we have to think long term,” said Reynolds. “Our hope is that over the long term, the right environment for investment will come back and we’ll continue to grow even more.”
Governor Greg Abbott called it a great day for Toyota and a great day for Texas.
“I always feel so much pride when I see the decals on Tundras – born in Texas, built by Texans,” said Abbott.
Aisin AW, a Toyota Texas supplier, recently announced that it will invest $400 million and bring 900 new jobs to a future facility in Cibolo.
“Today we celebrate that made in Texas label and we celebrate the tremendous investment that Toyota and Aisin are making to the state,” said Abbott. “Together, you all are fueling Texas’ emergence as a manufacturing powerhouse.”
The governor also announced that Friday, he’ll head to Japan to meet with executives of Toyota and Aisin and talk about expanding the Toyota and Aisin brands in Texas.
Reynolds says the $391 million investment in the San Antonio plant will improve production of the Tundra and Tacoma trucks.
“And perhaps other models as the auto market evolves, but in order to make sure that happens, we need to invest now and that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s really a bet on the long-term future of Toyota Texas here in San Antonio.”
The quest to get a Toyota plant began in 1987 when San Antonio, under the leadership of then-Mayor Henry Cisneros, established a Sister City relationship with Kumamoto, Japan.
“You know, it just doesn’t get any better than to have the largest automotive company in the world put a plant in the South Side of San Antonio in one of the neediest school districts in the city and employing thousands of people and bringing 21 suppliers, it just doesn’t get any better,” Cisneros told KTSA News.
Toyota also is donating $500,000 to the Alamo Promise program over a five-year period. The program provides free college tuition to low-income seniors graduating from San Antonio area schools.