Toyota teases 2 new models in plant investment announcement (and we know what they are)
In the middle of a press release regarding an $800 million investment in Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana (TMMI), Toyota let it slip that two new models will find their place on the production line there - one Toyota and one Lexus.
The two new three-row SUVs are designed with the "active Gen Y American Family in mind". To figure out what they will be, look no further than our list of the new vehicle trademarks that Toyota and Lexus have put forth in the last few months.
The automaker has already filed to trademark the names "Grand Highlander", "TX350", and "TX500h". If you were a gambler, you'd want to put money on at least one of these models being a take on the Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept that was presented a few years ago at the North American International Auto Show. That three-row, coupe-like SUV was a touch ahead of the trend in terms of body styling and was very well received by dealers, media, and the public.
The Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept was well-received by dealers, media, and the public when it premiered half a decade ago.Photo courtesy of Lexus
There's also the possibility that the forthcoming "Grand Highlander" may be a new Sequoia under a fresh name.
The "TX350" and "TX500h" filing makes it apparent that the vehicle will likely come with the same base engine as the Lexus RX, a 3.5-liter V6, and perhaps get a hybrid variant of the 5.0-liter V8 that's in the forthcoming 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport.
The release also said that the vehicles will have a semi-automated driving system. Lexus Teammate, a system with characteristics similar to what Toyota has described, will come first to the 2022 Lexus LS 500h. It has Level 2 functionality that "allows for driving on limited-access highways with partial hands-free, eyes-on-the-road operation", according to the automaker.
The announcement from Toyota says that the details of the forthcoming eight-passenger vehicles will be announced "at a later date".
"Over the past 20 years, Toyota has led the way with more electrified vehicles on the road than all automakers combined," said Ted Ogawa, president and CEO of Toyota Motor North America. "This investment and new vehicle line-up will allow us to continue our work with electrification, expand our portfolio to around 70 models globally by 2025, and meet the needs of our customers while we accelerate towards carbon neutrality."
Traditionally it takes 12 to 18 months to build out a factory following an announcement of this nature.
The investment in TMMI will bring 1,400 new jobs to the Princeton, Indiana plant. The factory, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, currently has over 7,200 employees. It's currently the home of the Toyota Sienna, Sequoia, and Highlander.