APASEO EL GRANDE, Mexico, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp will ramp up production at its new Mexican plant to 100,000 vehicles a year by 2021, marking a major step to shift production of its popular Tacoma pickup truck to Mexico from the United States, the company said on Thursday.
The plant in the central state of Guanajuato, along with an older facility near the U.S. border, will bring Toyota's Mexican production to 266,000 trucks a year when at full capacity, the company added.
Toyota said it expects to send 95% of pickups from the two plants to the United States, where the automaker sold nearly 249,000 Tacomas last year, up 1.3%.
"Tacoma production will be concentrated right here in Mexico," said Christopher Reynolds, a chief administrative officer for Toyota in North America, at an event to inaugurate the Guanajuato plant.
"What this means is that the Mexican manufacturing facilities of Toyota will build all the Tacomas that serve the mid-size pickup segment in the North American market."
Toyota previously said it would move Tacoma production from the United States to Mexico as it adjusts production around North America.
Japan's largest automaker pumped $700 million into the Guanajuato site, which began operating last December. Toyota began making Tacoma trucks in 2003 at its plant in Mexico's northern border city of Tecate, where last year it turned out close to 167,000 pickups.
Automotive exports from Mexico fell for the first time in a decade last year, dragged down by weak demand from outside the United States, and industry groups project another drop in 2020. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Dan Grebler)