Lexus: The Ultimate Pursuit of Production

Gary S. Vasilash

While those who follow Lexus are probably aware of some of the extremes that they go to in building their cars and utilities—like deploying highly trained takumis, or master craftspeople, during the assembly process—what many people probably don’t know is that some of the Lexus RX crossover vehicles—arguably the luxury crossover that started the luxury crossover phenomenon—are actually built in a 3-million-square-foot plant in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.

Earlier this week Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada announced that it will be investing more than $100-million and hiring some 400 people to boost output production of the RX.

They’ll be increasing annual output by 30,000 units, achieving the ability to produce 104,000 units annually.


“With rising demand for our RX 450h hybrids. . . .”—Mark Templin, Lexus general manager

One interesting aspect of this is that the production of the RX 450h, the hybrid variant, is being increased, as well. They’ll have the ability to produce 15,000 in the Cambridge plant.*

Several things are interesting about this. One is that in terms of U.S. sales, Lexus, which had long been in the lead position and which fell due to factors including unwarranted claims regarding the performance of some of its products and a lineup that was aging as competitors were hell-bent on freshening, seems to be on an upward trajectory.

Another is that while the temporary decline in gas prices led some people to believe that hybrids were going to become not much more than an interesting niche, clearly that’s not the case so far as Lexus is concerned.

Finally, this is a case where the yen-dollar exchange rate works to the advantage of North American production workers and operations.

Since February, Toyota has announced investments at its plants in Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, and Ontario, investments on the order of $745-million and which represent the addition of more than 1,500 jobs.

*At the Cambridge plant they also produce the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, RAV4, and RAV4 EV.