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Subaru Ascent could be a game changer for the local economy

SIA is celebrating the launch of a new vehicle. It's taken about 5 years and a $140 million investment behind the walls of SIA, but on Friday the facility showed off its latest vehicle.

Posted: Dec. 1, 2017 3:02 PM
Updated: Dec. 1, 2017 6:23 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — SIA is celebrating the launch of a new vehicle. It's taken about 5 years and a $140 million investment behind the walls of SIA, but on Friday the facility showed off its latest vehicle.

"This is the highest technology on the face of the planet, and it's being built right here in Indiana," said Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.

On Friday, Subaru of Indiana Automotive introduced the public to the Subaru Ascent. It's the fourth vehicle to be produced at the Lafayette facility.

"The Ascent will fill what's been considered to be kind of a hole in the Subaru line up," said SIA Executive Vice President Tom Easterday. "We didn't have that large SUV to compete with others."

Easterday said it took lots of planning and a multi-million dollar investment to get the plant ready for the largest Subaru vehicle ever built.

"Part of that 140 million dollar investment was to put new carriers, into our trim and final line, that were big enough for the Ascent production," explained Easterday. "We also had to make some other changes in our structure and facility to make sure that it was big enough."

The new three-row SUV is being built exclusively right here in Lafayette. Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, who along with Holcomb was present at the unveiling, believes Subaru's confidence in the local facility will spark interest from other companies.

"This is a good place to do business and that it does encourage other people to make investments," said Roswarski.

Holcomb said it's a reflection of Tippecanoe County's influence on the state's manufacturing.

"It's a powerhouse, and it's a real engine, so to speak, to our overall state economy," Holcomb added.

Before the addition of the Ascent, the plant produced three other Subaru models the Outback, Legacy, and Impreza.

Adding the Ascent has created 200 new jobs in the Lafayette plant.

Production of the Ascent begins in May and they should go on sale sometime in June. The official price hasn't been announced just yet, but early estimates place the starting pricing in the low $30,000 range.

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