Major Toyota news brings PM and premier to region

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne will make a joint announcement at the Cambridge Toyota plant Friday, fuelling speculation the Southwestern Ontario factory is in line for a massive investment.

The announcement at 3:30 p.m. will embrace both Toyota’s Cambridge and Woodstock plants. Speculation on the shop floor Thursday veered from a new vehicle to replace the Corolla departing at year’s end, or a retool to ramp up production and make even more of the automaker’s best-selling RAV4s, said Lee Sperdutti, a Toyota worker.

“It has been very hush-hush. There has not been any information, everyone is waiting on bated breath,” he said.

“There is a lot of speculation but we really don’t know.”

The Cambridge plant will stop making the Corolla either at the end of this year, or early in 2019 and Toyota recently announced a small Lexus crossover vehicle will be built on the RAV4 frame, leading to speculation the Ontario plants may land that work.

Toyota’s plant in Cambridge assembles the Corolla and Lexus RX350 cross-over vehicle, while the Woodstock plant builds the RAV4.  The plant is already building the next-generation RAV4, for 2019.

“Isn’t it exciting?” said Suzanne Baal, Toyota spokesperson, who declined further comment.
“It is a government announcement. We are hosting. It is for them to announce,” she said.

Between them, Toyota’s two Southwestern Ontario plants employ about 8,000 workers, with 5,600 in Cambridge and 2,400 in Woodstock.

Friday’s announcement comes as Ontario braces for a June election expected to be called next week.