Toyota rocked Kentucky’s automotive scene in April with the announcement that it would invest $1.33 billion — the second largest stake in the state’s history — in its Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky facility in Georgetown.
TMMK will be the first North American plant to use Toyota New Global Architecture, the company’s new vehicle development and production technology model. The 2018 Camry will be the first Toyota vehicle made in the U.S. to benefit from the global architecture plan.
“This $1.33 billion investment is part of Toyota’s plan to invest $10 billion dollars in the U.S. over the next five years, on top of the nearly $22 billion Toyota has invested in the U.S. over the past 60 years, ” said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America. “Toyota New Global Architecture is about exciting, ever-better vehicles for our customers as it will improve performance of all models, including increased fuel efficiency, more responsive handling, and a more stable, comfortable feel while driving.”
Toyota believes the new global architecture will shorten its development cycle for vehicle improvements and new car designs and make for a more flexible production environment.
In addition to global architecture improvements, the Kentucky plant will undergo other makeovers that will, together, modernize and streamline the production process. That includes updating equipment and construction of an all-new paint shop.
“This is the largest investment in our plant’s history and it speaks directly to the quality of our people and our products, as well as the partnerships we’ve forged in the local community and across the state, ” said Wil James, president, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky. “This major overhaul will enable the plant to stay flexible and competitive, further cementing our presence in Kentucky.”
Toyota Kentucky is the automaker’s largest plant in the world, employing 8, 200 team members. This represents an all-time high after recently adding more than 700 people to support the upcoming launch of the 2018 Camry. Last year, TMMK produced nearly a quarter of the total Toyota vehicles produced in North America — more than 500, 000. In total, the plant has produced more than one-third — 11 million — of all Toyota vehicles manufactured in North America since 1986.
A recent study by the Center for Automotive Research shows Toyota Kentucky supports nearly 30, 000 jobs across the state, including direct, indirect and spin-off jobs. TMMK employees live in 80 Kentucky counties, and currently Toyota has more than 100 suppliers located across the Commonwealth.
Text by Dave Helms