The next-generation of Toyota’s popular Camry will arrive at dealerships later this summer. The automaker has tweaked their hot-selling sedan from top to bottom with a sleeker, more aerodynamic design and a driver-focused cabin. Recently, production of the 2018 Camry kicked off at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. As the largest Toyota plant in the world, TMMK has produced more than 11 million vehicles in its 31 years, including more than 8 million Camrys.
Along with the aerodynamic enhancements, the Camry now has a lower center of gravity and a more rigid body to improve ride and handling. Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) is the foundation for the new Camry and will greatly influence how it performs in all areas, from safety to fuel economy. The 2018 Camry is the first vehicle in North America with TNGA, an initiative the automaker says will enhance how they design, engineer, and manufacture vehicles.
Luxury car treatments are seen throughout, especially when it comes to reducing noise, vibration, and harshness, often abbreviated as “NVH” in automotive speak. NVH reducing measures on the new Camry include sound-absorbing insulation in the hood and upper and lower fender separator, while additional foam is placed strategically to cut unwanted road noise. On the inside, Toyota trimmed the interior with high quality, soft touch materials. All of these things are a step in the right direction for Toyota and their beloved sedan, and the staff at TMMK will play a vital role in bringing it to life.
“The launch of the next-generation Camry is important for Toyota in America, and expands the company’s footprint in and commitment to Kentucky,” said Wil James, President, TMMK.
Toyota’s operations in Kentucky have sparked economic growth in recent times as TMMK hired more than 700 people to support 2018 Camry production. TMMK’s employment stands at an all-time high, now over 8,000 strong. Earlier this year, Toyota announced a $1.33 billion investment at TMMK for TNGA improvements to modernize and streamline production. TNGA, while benefiting drivers, will also optimize TMMK’s vehicle production process.
“We are proud to be the first in North America to produce a vehicle with TNGA,” James said. “It’s a testament to the skill and dedication of our team members.”
Since 1986, the Kentucky plant has received $7 billion from Toyota, something that resonates deeply with the Bluegrass State. Last year, TMMK produced more than 500,000 Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, and Lexus ES 350 vehicles, which represents nearly a quarter of the Toyota vehicles produced in North America. A recent study by the Center for Automotive Research shows Toyota Kentucky supports nearly 30,000 jobs across the state (direct, indirect, and spin-off). TMMK employees live in 80 Kentucky counties, and currently Toyota has more than 100 suppliers in the Commonwealth. In the United States, Toyota is investing $10 billion over the next five years, adding to the nearly $22 billion already invested over the past 60 years.
For TMMK employees like Chad Lindon, a 22-year Toyota veteran and powertain production team member, seeing the new Camry roll down the assembly line represents a brighter future.
“It has more horsepower, better fuel economy, and new technology that customers want,” he said. “That all adds up to more job security and stability for my family.”
Safety Team Leader Maigen Layne shares similar sentiments.
“I’m proud to work on the best-selling car in America for 15 years running,” she said.
Both Lindon and Layne believe the 2018 Toyota Camry will deliver the reliability, functionality, and excitement sedan buyers are looking for.
“It’s the best one so far,” Layne said, who plans on getting one herself. “I test drove one of the first 2018 models off the line and I know it will be a big hit.”
“It catches the eye,” Lindon added.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.