The first Impreza rolled off the line at Subaru’s only North American factory, in Lafayette, on Tuesday.
The car-maker hired 1,400 people, for a total staff of 5,500, and invested $1.3 billion to start producing the new model.
Subaru’s Lafayette capacity has grown 55 percent in the past two years, to nearly 400,000 vehicles a year.
They’re all made with parts from 28 Indiana suppliers, and steel from Northwest Indiana, says executive vice president Tom Easterday.
He says that means growth at the Lafayette plant actually has a big impact around the state and beyond.
“Some manufacturers obviously have moved production outside the country,” he says. “But I think we should all take a lot of pride — and when I say all, I mean the whole community — in the fact that we’re able to bring production over here from Japan.”
The Impreza is the first model to move over from Japanese production since the Legacy, which was the first car made at the plant when it opened in 1988.
Now, Easterday says Subaru is already looking ahead to more expansion, with a new line of crossovers starting in 2018. He’s not sure yet how many new staff that’ll require.
With their latest round of Lafayette hires to help make the Impreza, Easterday says Subaru had the most luck recruiting veterans and training high school graduates for skilled positions.