The federal and Ontario governments have given Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada nearly $34 million toward expansion of its Cambridge plant.
Toyota announced the expansion plan last July, saying it would invest $100 million to boost production of its Lexus RX350 and also begin producing the RX450h, a hybrid electric version of the popular luxury crossover vehicle.
The plan will create 400 new jobs, Toyota said at the time.
Ottawa and Ontario are each contributing half of the nearly $34 million.
The federal share is the first to come out of the $250 million Auto Industry Fund, a program Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last month was being extended for another five years.
Originally created during the auto industry crisis of 2008, Harper said, the fund is needed to help Canada compete for new technology and jobs in an increasingly globalized auto industry.
“This milestone initiative to build greener more fuel efficient cars will advance Canadian innovation and increase our ability to compete internationally resulting in more high-paying, stable jobs,” Harper said in a statement.
The provincial funds are coming out of Ontario’s Strategic Jobs and Investment Fund.
The move comes as auto industry sales in North America finally began rebounding last year from the recession of 2008.
But with 80 per cent of Canada’s auto production headed for the U.S., a higher Canadian dollar has made it tough for some U.S.-owned manufacturers to compete.
Japanese auto makers, on the other hand, are finding a higher yen has made it more cost-effective to bring additional production to Canada.
Ottawa extended the federal auto industry fund, first created during the auto industry crisis of 2008, earlier this year, saying the industry needs help competing.
The fund is earmarked for strategic, large-scale, research and development projects, Ottawa said.
Building the first hybrid Lexus outside Japan would require new technology, exacting standards and tight timelines, the company said last July.
The auto industry supports nearly 485,000 jobs in Ontario, according to the provincial government.
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