Toyota to Manufacture Camry Hybrids in Kentucky
Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America announced on May 17th that it will begin building a hybrid-electric version of the Camry—Toyota's top-selling vehicle—at its Georgetown, Kentucky, plant in late 2006. The Camry hybrid will be Toyota's first hybrid produced in North America, and only the second hybrid vehicle to be manufactured in the United States (Ford Motor Company currently produces the Escape Hybrid in Kansas City, Missouri). Toyota will invest $10 million to upgrade the plant for hybrid production and will have the ability to produce 48,000 Camry hybrids per year. The company did not yet release specific details about the Camry hybrid. See the Toyota press release.
The Toyota news comes on the heels of record-breaking sales of hybrid vehicles in the United States. In late April, R.L. Polk & Company reported that U.S. registrations for new hybrid vehicles increased by 81 percent in 2004, to 83,153. The Toyota Prius dominated the U.S. market in 2004 with 53,761 new-vehicle registrations, about 64 percent of the total. Sales of the Prius are continuing to gain strength in 2005: In April alone, Toyota sold 11,345 of the vehicles in the United States, a near doubling of sales over April 2004. In addition, Toyota's Lexus division launched its RX 400h hybrid sport utility vehicle on April 18th and reported selling 2,345 of the vehicles by month's end. American Honda Motor Company, Inc. is also experiencing record sales of its hybrid vehicles, with year-to-date hybrid sales at 14,604 vehicles at the end of April, a 56.7 percent increase above last year's sales figures for the same time period. Ford Motor Company likewise reported record sales of its Escape Hybrid in April, although it did not provide sales figures. See the press release from Polk, Toyota, Honda, and Ford.