Reports that Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA), the US-based subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries, will end its contract with Toyota for contract assembly of the Camry passenger car in Lafayette are premature according Subaru of America.
US local press sources quoted SIA’s executive vice president Tom Easterday as stating that changes to Toyota’s production plan meant that Camry production, which amounts to 100,000 a year at Lafayette, would finish at the end of the present contract in 2017.
However, a spokesperson for Subaru of America told Automotive Logistics that “no decision had been officially announced at this stage”, a point reiterated by a spokesperson for Toyota Motor Sales who said that discussions about the status of Camry production at SIA were ongoing.
Toyota Motor has a 16.5% share in Fuji Heavy Industries.
The plant in Lafayette builds 170,000 of its own vehicles a year in addition to the Toyota Camry, including the Subaru Legacy, Outback and Tribeca, and SIA reported record production at the end of the fiscal year in March 2013 of 271,583 vehicles. Meanwhile, sales of Subaru vehicles in the US are expected to hit 500,000 by 2016 and capacity is becoming an issue for the carmaker. The company has more than doubled sales and imports over the last five years.
It plans to start building the Impreza there for the first time in 2016.
In May the carmaker said that it was investing $400m to expand the plant to more than 46,000 square metres to accommodate an increase in production, including the Impreza. That model is currently built exclusively at Subaru’s plants in Japan. The company said the expansion, that began this autumn, will include new equipment primarily in the paint and body assembly areas and will also see improvements made to process flow.
Subaru said that bringing Impreza production to the plant would allow it to retain its workforce in 2017. It also plans to boost production significantly by the end of 2016, with a 130,000 increase.
In other news the Lafayette plant was closed on Monday this week following damage caused by a tornado. According to Fuji Heavy Industries, parts of the building were ripped away and there had been minor damage to vehicles awaiting shipment. However, the company said the plant was largely unharmed and there had been no reports of injuries to staff. The plant was shut on Monday (November 18) and the first shift cancelled on Tuesday, with the operation schedule subject to further assessment.
Additional reporting by Marcus Williams