Toyota plans $1.33 billion overhaul of Kentucky plant for next-gen Camry

DALLAS — Toyota Motor Corp. plans to invest $1.33 billion to revamp its Georgetown, Ky., assembly plant to make way for a redesigned and re-engineered Camry, the company’s best-selling car that is moving to an all-new global platform.
The Georgetown factory, which produced more than 500,000 vehicles last year, will receive new equipment and a new paint shop as the 2018 Camry transitions to the Toyota New Global Architecture that will underpin a raft of new and updated models.
Toyota says the new architecture will deliver enhanced fuel economy, improved ride and handling, and shorten the development cycle for future improvements and updated models.
The switch to the TNGA platform requires not just new equipment at the Kentucky factory, which also has a line dedicated to the Lexus ES, but an overhaul of major manufacturing processes, Toyota said.
The Georgetown site will be the first plant in North America to produce vehicles using the new architecture. A Corolla plant under construction in central Mexico will be the first ground-up TNGA factory in the region when it opens in 2019.
The Georgetown outlay is part of a planned $10 billion in U.S. investments over the next five years, in addition to the nearly $22 billion the company has invested over the last six decades, said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America.
Toyota was one of several automakers targeted for criticism by Donald Trump as president-elect because of the Corolla plant investment in Mexico. Toyota is also expanding production of the Tacoma pickup at its only current Mexican factory, which is in Tijuana.
The Japanese company, which has 10 manufacturing plants in the U.S., has stressed its U.S. investments since the November election and included a comment from Trump in Monday’s statement.
“Toyota’s decision to invest $1.3 billion in their Kentucky plant is further evidence that manufacturers are now confident that the economic climate has greatly improved under my administration,” Trump said in a comment attributed to him by Toyota.
Toyota, however, plans manufacturing investments years in advance as it manages a vast global supply chain. The company also has said that its Mexican plant investments will continue on schedule.
One reason for the big price tag for the Georgetown renovation is the sheer size of the manufacturing complex.
Toyota Kentucky “is the automaker’s largest plant in the world, employing 8,200 team members,” the company said. “This represents an all-time high after recently adding over 700 people to support the upcoming launch of the 2018 Camry.”
The company invested another $530 million beginning in 2013 to bring its first U.S. Lexus production line to Georgetown last year, bringing its total outlay in Kentucky to $1.86 billion over four years.
Source: Automotive News