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Toyota West Virginia Celebrates Completion of Engine Plant.

Company Purchases New Ambulance for Putnam County and Unveils Quilt

Symbolizing West Virginia Quality

BUFFALO, W.Va., May 22 /PRNewswire/ --

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) President Fujio Cho, Governor Cecil Underwood, Senator Jay Rockefeller and hundreds of guests from throughout West Virginia, the U.S. and Japan, joined officials at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia, Inc. (Toyota West Virginia) today to dedicate the engine plant and celebrate its official completion.

The Toyota West Virginia plant dedication marked Cho's first official visit to a North American Toyota manufacturing facility since being named President of TMC last year. President Cho told the gathering, "In four short years, this once-open field has transformed into a thriving plant where some 650 West Virginians are producing some of the world's best engines. In less than a year, Toyota West Virginia will become the first plant outside of Japan to produce automatic transmissions."

Toyota West Virginia officials marked the plant's completion by announcing their plan to purchase an ambulance to service northern Putnam County and unveiling a custom-made art quilt symbolizing West Virginia quality.

David Copenhaver, the plant's General Manager of Administration, said, "This part of Putnam County has been in need of local ambulance service for a number of years. We are happy to be able to help the Putnam County Commission meet this important need for our community." Currently, the closest ambulance is stationed in Winfield, nearly 15 minutes away. The new ambulance will be housed in the Buffalo Volunteer Fire Department Station and staffed by Putnam County Emergency Medical Services. The Putnam County Commission will provide additional funding to staff and operate the Buffalo station.

The dedication event culminated with the unveiling a patchwork quilt honoring the traditional craftsmanship and skill of West Virginians and symbolizing the partnership between Toyota and the Mountain State. "In many ways, Toyota West Virginia's engines are like the beautiful patchwork quilts made by generations of West Virginians," said Tomoya Toriumi, President and CEO of Toyota West Virginia. "They both contain many small but important pieces assembled with creativity, teamwork, and skill to make a beautiful, useful product." Toriumi also praised employees and the community for their role in the successful completion of the engine plant.

The Toyota West Virginia dedication quilt, titled "Motion," was designed by Charleston artist Leslie Sabol and produced by the skilled artisans at the Cabin Creek Quilts cooperative in Malden. Sabol said she designed the quilt to "capture the interest of its viewers and challenge them to look again and again." The sampler quilt uses traditional Appalachian patterns and Asian- inspired fabric designs to create a circular motif common in Japanese artistry. According to Sabol, "The result is a celebration of the partnership between two cultures and a surprising resemblance to machinery in `Motion.'"

Toyota presented the State of West Virginia with a replica of the "Motion" quilt, which will be the first in a series of "Millennium Quilts" produced by Cabin Creek Quilts and sponsored by West Virginia businesses or organizations. President Cho also received a replica of the quilt to display at TMC's headquarters in Japan. Each of the event's guests received a hand-made item based on the quilt's design.

The Toyota West Virginia project was announced in May of 1996. Ground was broken on the 4-cylinder engine plant in September of 1996. In January of 1998 Toyota announced the plant's first expansion, a V6 engine facility. A second expansion, Toyota's first automatic transmission plant outside Japan, was announced in September of 1998. Toyota West Virginia has been making engines at the Buffalo facility since late 1998. Currently the plant employs nearly 650 people and produces about 800 4-cylinder and 400 V6 engines per day. The number of employees will climb to approximately 800 during 2001, when the automatic transmission plant begins production.

The 4-cylinder engines are produced for California-built Toyota Corollas and the V6 engines are produced for the Kentucky-built Toyota Avalon. The Buffalo plant will have the annual capacity to produce 300,000 4-cylinder engines for California-produced Corollas and Prizms, 200,000 V6 engines for Kentucky-produced Avalons and Siennas, and 360,000 automatic transmissions per year for North American-produced Camrys. The planned investment at the Buffalo site is $900 million.
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 22, 2000
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