Toyota Canada invests $421M for laser welding and metal stamping technology

Cambridge, ON, Canada - Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) will invest $421 million in "state of the art" laser welding and metal stamping technology for Toyota's plants in Cambridge and Woodstock, according to Rose Simone in the July 31, 2015 Waterloo Region Record. The financial commitment shows the automaker's commitment to the region, says the president of the company's Canadian operations.

The technology going into the plants is a "foreshadowing of what you might see in the future," says Brian Krinock, president of TMMC. “The Cambridge plant will get the newest laser welding robots for producing the next generation of Lexus models. The Cambridge North plant currently produces the Lexus RX350 sport utility vehicle."

TMMC says the new equipment will enable the plant to produce higher-quality welds more quickly and will enhance the rigidity and handling of vehicles. The "state of the art" laser welding technology is being introduced for the first time outside of Japan, Krinock says.

The automaker also will install a new metal stamping line in Woodstock, where the RAV4 crossover vehicle is made. The line will be capable of stamping parts in both high-grade steel and aluminum, a lightweight material that contributes to greater fuel efficiency. The stamping line will mean fewer parts have to be imported, and if there is enough volume, some of those parts may even be exported to the company's US plants.

The federal and provincial governments are supporting the investment with more than $100 million in grants and loans. Ontario is providing a conditional grant of $42.1 million while Ottawa is contributing a repayable loan of $59 million.

Government officials said their contributions will help support the existing 8000 jobs in Cambridge and Woodstock plants and create about 25 new jobs.

The investment comes at a time when questions have been raised about the future of the Cambridge plant.

Toyota announced in April 2015 that production of the company's top-selling Corolla will move from Cambridge to Mexico in 2019. Currently, about 3000 people in the 8000-strong workforce are dedicated to making the Corolla.

The company has promised to retool the North plant, where the Corolla is produced, to make higher-end vehicles here, but it has not yet identified the models that might come here.

"Today's announcement is about the next generation of Lexus vehicles but later this year we will be announcing what will happen for our North facility," Krinock says.

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