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Posted on Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Toyota minivan engineered in Ann Arbor area will be exported

By Nathan Bomey

(See previous story Analysis: Toyota shifts resources to U.S., positioning Ann Arbor area engineering center for growth)

A minivan engineered by the Ann Arbor area's Toyota Technical Center will be exported to the Korean market, the Japanese automaker announced Tuesday.


The Toyota Technical Center in York Township completed engineering work on the redesigned Toyota Sienna minivan, which is seen here on display at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Nathan Bomey |

The manufacturer will export the Sienna minivan — which was engineered in York Township and is assembled in Indiana — to South Korea starting this month.

The automaker exported about 100,000 U.S.-assembled vehicles to 19 countries in 2010, but this is the first time the Sienna will be exported outside North America. The company expects to export 600 vehicles at first.

Other vehicles that have been engineered at the Toyota Technical Center and exported to other markets include the Avalon sedan and the Tundra pick-up truck.

"Toyota's North American operations are constantly working to identify and expand new export opportunities for the vehicles we produce here, building on our extensive investments in auto production, research and development in the U.S. and helping to maintain a strong, stable base of jobs," said Yoshimi Inaba, president and COO of Toyota Motor North America Inc., in a statement. "With this development and other possible achievements in the future, we hope to continue boosting exports from our North American operations."

The Wall Street Journal reported: "The move indicates consumers in other global markets may be slowly embracing larger 'American style' vehicles."

The news comes after the U.S. approved a new free trade agreement with South Korea last month. Toyota did not mention the free trade agreement in its news release.

Toyota employs about 1,100 people at the tech center's campuses in York Township and Ann Arbor Township. Engineers develop and test new vehicles under tight security on a 690-acre parcel at the corner of Platt and Willis.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.


Ron Granger

Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

BUILT in this state? What does that even mean? By BUILT, do you mean assemble the vast percentage of parts from suppliers in other states and countries? What percentage of Ford and GM vehicles are still assembled in Michigan? Toyota is doing ENGINEERING here. That's *hugely* beneficial to our economy. We need to move Michigan away from low paying menial labor jobs, and toward engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship.


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 5:50 p.m.

About a third of all GM, Ford and Chrysler cars sold in North America are made in Michigan. As for parts, the Big Three manufacutre about 50 percent of their powertrain components in this state, not to mention stamp most of the parts for their vehichles in this state. Ford, GM, and Chrysler require just in time delivery for most of their components. This means that many of the suppliers are located near the assembly plants. And before anyone tags these jobs as "menial," they pay a decent wage and are very capital intensive, not to mention use a ton of technology and employ many engineers. As of last count, the Big Three have the following number of manufacturing plants in Michigan: GM= 18 Ford= 14 Chrysler= 13 Toyota=0 Incidentially, GM, Ford, and Chrysler's engineering operations in this state are exponentially larger than Toyota's size and employment wise, and the Big Three design vehichles at these operations as well.


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

It would be nice if toyota actually engineered and BUILT something in this state like Ford, GM, and Chyrsler do. 600 vehicles is a drop in the bucket- this state build more vehichles than that in one hour.


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

True Racerx, but remember the transplants have amounted to a zero sum game. For every plant opened in Texas, Kentucky, or Alabama, meant that a plant(s) in Michigan and Ohio closed. All the while the transplants- and they knew what they were doing- have bought political clout so when Ford, GM, and Chrysler ask for assistance as they did in 2008, you have someone like Dick Shelby of Alabama saying that the Big Three should die. If there were not a transplant operation in his state, I am sure he could care less.


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 10:38 p.m.

The Toyota Camry is built in the U.S. The former NUMI plant in California built both the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix. Toyota also builds the Tacoma full size pick-up truck in Texas. Though not this state, at least it's in the U.S.


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

wait I thought toyota did nothing good for American workers?? (except build half the Pontiac line)


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 3:26 p.m.

"(except build half the Pontiac line)" half of zero = zero


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

Now that's the type of news I like to hear!