Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards are dictating a change in engine development. On mainstream models, a focus has turned to maximizing fuel economy though turbocharging. Hyundai/Kia was the first to proclaim the mid-size V-6 sedan as a thing of the past, and Chevrolet and Ford have followed.
The two top sellers in the segment, Toyota and Nissan, are sticking with V-6 power though. Toyota hasn’t announced any plans for a turbocharged four-cylinder in the Camry whatsoever, sticking to natural aspiration. Both Toyota and Nissan have said as long as there is V-6 demand, they will continue to build them.
Illustrating this commitment, Toyota has announced an $80 million investment at its Huntsville, Alabama engine plant. The investment includes adding 125 new jobs and boosting V-6 capacity at the plant by a 216,000 units, to 362,000. A 300,000 square feet building will be constructed as part of the investment.
“This V6 line addition continues to reflect our growing optimism for an improving North American market, and we continue to study more localization in North America,” said Steve St. Angelo, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
The Huntsville, Alabama plant produces V-8, V-6 and four-cylinder engines for eight of Toyota’s North American vehicle lines. The total capacity of the plant will be up to 700,000 engines when the additional capacity comes online in March 2014. Toyota’s engine capacity in the U.S will stand at 1.4 million overall. Since the beginning of the year Toyota has announced $700 million in investment into U.S plants, along with 1,100 jobs. This investment is interesting because it indicates optimism about auto sales in the U.S, and with this particular announcement, higher V-6 sales. Where do they expect to need the additional capacity? It couldn’t come from Camry. Camry is experiencing its stiffest competition ever, and has never had any capacity issues. Anyhow, it is good to see increased investment in U.S manufacturing.