It’s been a very long time since the American market has seen French cars for sale–Renault left in 1991, Peugeot in 1989, Citroen in 1974–and it’ll still be a while before we see any new cars here from French brands. But Toyota announced this week it will shift some North American-market Yaris production to a facility in France.
The Toyota Motor Manufacturing France facility near Valenciennes, France has been making Yarises since 2001, and can make about 270,000 units a year. Starting next May, up to 25,000 of those units will be exported to the North American market, including the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.
Those 25,000 Yarises per year would make up a sizeable chunk of the Yarises sold here. Toyota sold a combined 37,489 Yaris hatchbacks in the U.S. and Canada last year, so more than half of the 2013 and 2014 models will come from France when the production and scheme is fully up to speed. Currently, American-market Yarises are made at Toyota’s production plant in Japan.
Because of the subtle differences between the European and American models–the North American model uses a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine that doesn’t power the European models, among other things–the Valenciennes plant will gets some $10.0 million in investment. With Valenciennes getting much of the American Yaris production, that leaves some more leeway at the Takaoka, Japan plant that currently makes 100 percent of North American-market Yarises. Signs point to that plant ramping up production of its other two models, the Corolla and Scion/Toyota iQ, the latter of which is slowly climbing in the U.S.-market.