Toyota Motor’s longest established U.S. assembly site, in Georgetown, Kentucky, began production in August of the redesigned 2019 Lexus ES350 sedan. Toyota officials have described the new model as having a more rigid, responsive chassis with superior handling and power.
Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, says the Lexus Global Architecture platform devised the new model, which is longer, wider, lower and has wheels pushed closer to the vehicle’s corners.
Toyota took great effort in preparing Lexus team members to build the new model. Workers spent more than 150,000 hours training to build the ES model, time that included sensory training that teaches assemblers, for instance, to feel for an abnormality as minute as a thread of hair.
“After extensive sensory training, our team members rely on sight, sound and touch to know that the craftsmanship of the car is of the highest standard,” says Mike Bridge, Lexus assistant general manager. “A machine can’t make those judgments, and that’s why we take so much time to train before a new model goes into production.”
Bridge said an example of this sensory training can be seen in body weld where workers are taught to feel gap differences measured in fractions as small as 0.3mm.
“This is equal to the thickness of three sheets of paper and can be felt even with gloves on,” he says.