LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Corp. will build a hybrid version of the Camry sedan at its Georgetown, Ky., plant starting in late 2006. It will be the first Toyota hybrid vehicle built outside of Japan.
The plant will be able to produce 48,000 Camry hybrids annually. It will cost about $10 million to adapt the plant to build the hybrids. No new construction is planned, however.
The Camry HV's high-tech components -- such as the battery and inverter -- will initially come from Japan, but Toyota hopes to localize that production "in the near term," said Gary Convis, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing of North America. The Camry engine will continue to come from Toyota's Kentucky plant.
Choosing Kentucky for assembly of the Camry hybrid does not preclude other North American plants from building other hybrid vehicles in the future.
"This isn't going to be the only hybrid derivation to be built in the United States," said Jim Press, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had personally lobbied Toyota CEO Fujio Cho to have the automaker use its NUMMI facility in Fremont, Calif., as a site for hybrid production.
Toyota's Georgetown plant has the capacity to build about 500,000 vehicles a year. To date, it has built nearly 6 million units of the Camry, Avalon, Solara and Sienna. Toyota's total investment in the Georgetown plant is nearly $5.3 billion.
Assembly of the Camry hybrid likely will replace existing Camry volume, and is not expected to be incremental, Convis said.
The Camry has been the best-selling car in America for three straight years, and for seven of the last eight years. In 2004, Toyota sold 426,990 units of the Camry sedan and Camry Solara coupe. Of that amount, 406,224 were assembled in North America.
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