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Toyota begins hybrid Camry production in United States

Toyota has been building Camrys for the US market in Georgetown, Kentucky for 20 years now and the plant has produced about 6.7 million vehicles. Since the first Camrys rolled off the line, Toyota has added production of the Avalon and Solara and over the years has also built other Camry derivatives such as the Sienna, and Lexus ES. The Kentucky plant is the primary source of US-market Camrys and the exclusive world-wide source of the Solara and Avalon. This week the Georgetown plant began producing the hybrid variant of the Camry as well becoming the second US assembly plant to produce hybrid vehicles after the Ford Kansas City plant that produces the Escape Hybrid. Toyota currently plans to build about 48,000 hybrid Camrys per year in Kentucky. This marks Toyota's first hybrid production outside of Japan.

The Camry Hybrid combines a 147hp 2.4L Atkinson cycle four cylinder with a 141hp electric motor which working together produce up to 187 combined horsepower. The drive-train also includes a continuously variable transmission. The Camry uses a nickel metal hybrid battery that can provide the electric motor with 40hp. Since the electric motor obviously capable of much more than is currently being used, it's probably just a matter of time before some enterprising after-market hackers substitute a different battery and create a plug-in version that can run more often on just electric power. The hybrid Camry is rated at 40/38 city/hwy mpg compared to 24/33 for the regular 4 cylinder model. The full press release is after the jump.

[Source: Toyota]

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.

Toyota established operations in North America in 1957. By 2008, Toyota will have the annual capacity to build about 2 million cars and trucks in 14 plants across North America. There are more than 1,700 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships in North America, which sell more than 2.5 million vehicles a year. Toyota directly employs nearly 40,000 people in North America. Toyota's investment in North America is valued at more than $17.6 billion, and annual purchasing from North American suppliers totals more than $29 billion.

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