GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Toyota's Georgetown manufacturing plant, already the company's biggest, is expanding even more. The company officially announced the $460 million expansion Friday.

What You Need To Know

  • Toyota announces $461 million expansion of Georgetown plant

  • The expansion will focus on three key areas: facility expansion, new powertrain line and recruitment

  • The plant will continue to make Camry and RAV4. Lexus ES production will return to Japan

  • The Georgetown plant opened in 1986

The company said in a statement the changes and projects coming to Georgetown are meant to meet customer demand, reduce its carbon footprint and make advancements for the future. 

Toyota Kentucky (TMMK) said the new plan will focus on three primary purposes:

  • Facility Enhancements and Operational upgrades — new equipment and technology, along with improvements in the facility's layout will, according to the company increase the plant's "operational speed, flexibility and competitiveness. 
  • Expansion of Powertrain Capabilities — The company says TMMK's powertrain operation will add a 2.4-liter turbo engine line to its product mix. This will expand the range of vehicles made in North America.
  • Direct Hire Program — Georgetown will change to a direct hire process. This is a process where the company or an employment agency handles recruitment to fill long-term needs. Toyota says approximately 1,400 of its variable staff members will be offered a direct position with Toyota. The company believes this will help recruit and retain talent. 

“As Toyota’s most experienced assembly plant in the U.S. with a workforce of about 9,000, TMMK must transform physically and strategically to meet the changing needs of customers,” said Susan Elkington, president of TMMK in a statement to Spectrum News 1. She added, “I am confident in our highly skilled team members who drive us forward every day as we prepare for the future of advanced manufacturing, whatever the products might be.” 

Gov. Andy Beshear alluded to the Toyota announcement Thursday when he announced other major economic developments involving GE Appliances and Tyson Foods. In the statement about the Toyota expansion, Beshear said, "Kentucky’s automotive industry is growing at a record pace, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky is at the center of that growth, Toyota changed the landscape of manufacturing in our state when the Georgetown facility first opened more than 30 years ago, and now the company is preparing for future growth. I am thrilled that future will include Kentucky in a significant way.” 

Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather couldn't be more pleased with the announcement. He added, “The City of Georgetown is delighted to be a partner with Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky’s latest announcement to expand and invest at the Georgetown facility; the largest Toyota plant in the world,” Mayor Prather said. “The investment foundation continues to be built and we, along with our other automotive partners, look to build upon their commitment to our community. "

TMMK will continue building Camry, Camry Hybrid and RAV4 Hybrid, but production of the Lexus ES and the Lexus ES Hybrid will move back to Japan. 

TMMK was established in 1986 and is also home to Toyota’s Production Engineering Manufacturing Center (PEMC) and the Manufacturing Production Innovation Center (MPIC) which according to Toyota, "spearheads mobility transformation initiatives, technologies, and advanced processing initiatives for the company’s 14 North American manufacturing facilities."