For the first time on U.S. soil, Toyota began manufacturing a hybrid. The vehicle in question is the Camry Hybrid and the soil of which we write is in Georgetown, Kentucky.

As Toyota already sells upwards of 400,000 Camrys in the U.S. each year, offering the hybrid version has merely been icing on a very popular cake. However, the plan, aside from worldwide automotive domination, is to offer a 'normal' sized vehicle equipped with a hybrid power train to show that you don't have to drive a Prius to get enviro-cred. Exhibit "A": the very prominent 'Hybrid' badging on both front quarter panels, plus two on the rear deckled.

That said, the pricing of the gas-electric Camry is one its more enticing attributes, as its sticker of $25,900 drops it squarely in between its optioned out four- and six-cylinder siblings. Gas mileage in the high-30s doesn't hurt either.

The full press release is after the jump, if you're into that sort of thing.


Oct 12, 2006 12:45 America/Los_Angeles

Toyota's First North American Hybrid Production Begins in Kentucky

Camry Hybrid Rolls off the Assembly Line in Georgetown

GEORGETOWN, Ky., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) celebrated the production launch of the Camry Hybrid today -- Toyota's first hybrid vehicle produced in North America.

The addition of hybrid production represents a $10 million investment at TMMK, which will build approximately 48,000 Camry Hybrid vehicles per year.

TMMK was established in 1986 and is Toyota's largest plant in North America. It employs approximately 7,000 team members and currently builds the Camry, Avalon and Solara. The plant has the capacity to build 500,000 vehicles annually. Since its inception, TMMK has built about 6.7 million vehicles, and the plant's current investment is $5.4 billion.

"We are proud, excited and honored to be Toyota's first plant in North America to build a hybrid vehicle," said Steve St. Angelo, President of TMMK. "It's a great tribute to the tremendous ability and skill level of all of our team members, who have been building the Camry, America's number one selling sedan."

"America's hybrid leader now sells a Camry hybrid made in America," said Don Esmond, Toyota Motor Sales senior vice president, Automotive Operations. "Production at the new Kentucky plant marks an exciting chapter in Toyota's history and a monumental step toward our ongoing commitment to hybrid technology."

The Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive System consists of gas and electric power sources that are complementary and produce a combined 187 horsepower. This system varies power between gas and electric, or both, as needed. The first- half of the system consists of a 2.4 liter four cylinder engine, assembled at TMMK's Power Train plant. The Atkinson-cycle engine generates 147 hp and is coupled to a continuously variable transmission. The second half of the Hybrid Synergy Drive equation consists of a small, high torque electric motor that produces 141 horsepower, an ultra-small inverter with a specially designed compact battery and a transaxle to provide the economy and seamless performance hybrid drivers seek.

The Camry Hybrid joins a growing Toyota and Lexus hybrid lineup in the U.S., which currently includes the groundbreaking Toyota Prius, Lexus RX 400h luxury hybrid sport utility vehicle (SUV), Toyota Highlander Hybrid mid-size SUV, and the 2007 Lexus GS 450h hybrid luxury sedan. In 2007, Lexus will be adding the LS 600h to the hybrid lineup. Since Toyota began selling hybrid vehicles in North America in 2000, the company has sold approximately 420,000 hybrid vehicles here. In 1997, Toyota became a pioneer in the industry by launching the Prius, a mass-production hybrid vehicle with outstanding environmental performance. Toyota has positioned hybrid systems as a key technology for the twenty-first century and is taking measures to promote the widespread use of hybrid vehicles.

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