Toyota Motor Manufacturing France announced today that as of May 2013, it will start building the Yaris compact car for export to the United States of America, Canada and Puerto Rico.
The annual export volume is about 25,000 units. The surprising move is both a hedge against the strong Japanese Yen that makes exports form the land of the rising sun unprofitable, as well a defensive capacity move against the ongoing collapse of the Western European economy that has seen car sales plummet for five straight years with no end to the decline in sight.
Building the Yaris for customers across North America will require an additional investment of €8 million at TMMF. This investment is needed for regulatory compliance, including the installation of a North American 1.5-litre gasoline engine, automatic transmission, differences in the rear bumper, as well as other items linked to local regulations. Only gasoline versions of Yaris will be exported to North America.
The current generation Toyota Yaris was launched in Europe in the summer of 2011, followed by the Toyota Yaris Hybrid in June 2012. Sales of the Yaris in Europe between January and May this year saw a year-on-year increase of 22%.