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Race fans examine a Subaru Impreza WRC before a rally in Italy. The Lafayette plant will build the model, previously built only in Japan.

Subaru invests big in state

900 new hires to build Imprezas in Lafayette in $400 million expansion

Associated Press photos
Gov. Mike Pence, left, greets Subaru Vice President Tom Easterday on Wednesday after Subaru unveiled a massive expansion at its Lafayette plant. Subaru will invest $400 million and hire 900 new workers by the end of 2016.

– Subaru said Wednesday it is investing $400 million to expand its Indiana factory and will add 900 workers to build the Impreza small car there in 2016.

The Lafayette plant now employs about 3,600 people and builds the Legacy and Outback cars and the Tribeca SUV. It also builds the Camry midsize car under contract with Toyota Motor Corp., the top shareholder in Subaru with a 16.5 percent stake.

Subaru, also known as Fuji Heavy Industries, said it will boost capacity at one of two assembly lines at the plant – the one that is now being used to build the Camry – from 100,000 vehicles to 200,000 vehicles.

It had already announced it would boost production capacity at the other line from the current 170,000 vehicles to 200,000.

Production of the Impreza is expected to start by the end of 2016, Subaru spokesman Yoshiaki Tabei said.

State and local leaders are praising Subaru’s plans.

Gov. Mike Pence joined Subaru executives for the announcement ceremony Wednesday at the Lafayette factory.

Pence said he’s proud that Subaru picked the Lafayette plant for the expansion.

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said the factory that opened in 1989 has far exceeded expectations. He said he’s pleased with Subaru’s continued confidence in the city.

Subaru sold 724,500 vehicles globally for the fiscal year ended March, up 13 percent from the previous year, with 357,600 of them in the U.S.

It sold 163,100 vehicles in Japan.

Subaru’s U.S. sales have doubled in the past five years.

U.S. sales of the Impreza – now built exclusively in Gunma, Japan – have fallen 31 percent this year, largely because of a shortage of vehicles on its dealer lots.

For the fiscal year ended March 31, Subaru sold 108,000 Impreza cars in the U.S., all imported from Japan.