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Toyota Unveils Crossover Vehicle; Kentucky Plant Selected to Handle Production

By wmadministrator

Toyota’s Georgetown plant has been tapped to handle the production of the company’s new crossover sedan, which is being billed by Toyota as a “unique blend of sedan refinement and sport utility vehicle (SUV) functionality.”

Toyota unveiled the Venza last month at the 2008 North American International Auto Show. According to Toyota officials, all aspects of the Venza’s engineering and design were targeted specifically for the North American market, where it will be sold exclusively.

The five-passenger Venza features two rows of seats, with a large cargo space behind the second row of seats. The 60/40 split rear seat folds flat, providing additional storage space for extra-long items such as surfboards, skis, camping gear and gardening equipment. The Venza has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, about triple the capacity of a traditional sedan.

“It will cater to buyers who are looking for the value and reliability of a Camry, the comfort and upscale refinement of an Avalon, and the utility and functionality of a Highlander SUV in one very stylish and sporty package,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager.

Toyota has invested $350 million to retool the Georgetown plant, where the Venza will be built on the same production line as the company’s popular Camry model. With the introduction of the Venza, Toyota is discontinuing production of its Solara coupe, which has experienced a lag in sales. Production of the Venza is expected to begin later this year, with the first vehicles going on sale in late 2008.

The Georgetown plant will be the only Toyota facility to produce the Venza. The company does not, however, anticipate hiring a great number of additional employees in relation to the new line. Toyota’s Georgetown plant presently employs approximately 7,000 employees who produce some 500,000 vehicles per year.