American Idol: U.S. Market Toyota Camry to be Built Exclusively in the Land of the Free

Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in the US for nine straight years. Yet, in its home market, it is virtually non-existent: even though it sold 82,000 cars in 1990, last year Toyota couldn’t shift more than 1,100 units! That’s because Japanese buyers prefer either the more sporty Mark X or the more luxurious Crown.

Therefore, for its seventh generation, which was only recently unveiled, Toyota decided to phase out imported Camrys from Japan and instead manufacture all cars earmarked for the North American market at its own plant in Georgetown and Subaru’s factory in Indiana.

“North America will be self-sufficient. The current US production capacity is sufficient to produce the vehicles we plan to sell” says Yukihiro Okane, chief engineer for the new Camry which goes on sale later this month.

This doesn’t mean that the mid-sized sedan won’t be manufactured in Japan anymore. It will still be produced at the Tsutsumi plant in Toyota City, albeit at a much reduced rate. Toyota aims to manufacture and sell 360,000 units annually in the US, while in Japan it will build 30,000 units, only 6,000 of which are destined for the local market.

Okane explains one of the reasons: “This Camry was developed in Japan, which means that production and design engineering originated here. So, at the moment, it’s most effective to manufacture it in Japan and, starting with Tsutsumi, deploy manufacturing globally.”

The second reason is the Camry’s hybrid version. Toyota aims to sell 50,000 hybrid Camry sedans per year in the US. They may be locally built, but all the hybrid components including batteries and electric motors, are manufactured in Japan. So it makes perfect sense, and is much more cost effective, to keep the domestic production line open.