Toyota's Kentucky plant launches 2018 Camry

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The 2018 Camry is the first vehicle in North America to make the move to Toyota New Global Architecture. Photo credit: LAURENCE ILIFF

GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Toyota launched production of the re-engineered 2018 Camry at its sprawling factory in Kentucky, which is undergoing a major overhaul to move the sedan to the company’s new global architecture.

Plant workers celebrated the launch during a shift change Wednesday after the eighth generation of America’s best-selling sedan started rolling off the line earlier this week.

“We look at this car as a great opportunity to maybe break the trend of these SUVs and trucks” that have come to dominate the U.S. market, said Wil James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky. “We’ve got a phenomenal product here.”

The Camry going on sale next month represents a complete change from the outgoing generation, with different engines, transmission, suspension, styling and materials. James said it is 96 percent new compared with the outgoing version.

U.S. deliveries of the outgoing Camry fell 12 percent to 147,434 vehicles through May. 

The Japanese sedan is the first vehicle in North America to make the move to Toyota New Global Architecture, a modular platform that will be used throughout the automaker’s lineup, with the exception of pickups and big SUVs.

Toyota also is revamping its manufacturing processes as part of the TNGA switchover to streamline assembly tasks, reduce inventory and use less space and energy.

Toyota’s total investment for the plant overhaul will reach $ 1.3 billion when complete, the company said, and includes a new paint shop and manufacturing equipment.

The Georgetown facility, which also makes the Lexus ES sedan, is Toyota’s biggest assembly plant in the world, producing over half a million cars last year. It currently has more than 8,000 workers, the company said.

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