By on November 15, 2013
2007 Photo, Toyota Camry being assembled at Lafayette, Indiana Subaru factory.

2007 Photo, Toyota Camry being assembled at Lafayette, Indiana Subaru factory.

Media reports citing Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. executive vice president, Tom Easterday say that Toyota will stop having Subaru build Camrys for sale in North America at SIA’s Lafayette, Indiana assembly plant when the current five year contract expires in 2017. “Based on changes in Toyota’s production plans, they have decided that the award-winning Camry production contract will not be renewed,” the  Louisville Journal & Courier quoted Easterday as saying. Toyota declined comment. Subaru’s parent company Fuji said no decisions have been made and that it had nothing official to announce. Subaru has been building Camrys for Toyota in Indiana since 2005.

Subaru had previously said that it would increase the factory’s capacity from 170,000 to 300,000 units annually by the end of 2016. The plant has the capacity to build 100,000 Camrys a year in addition to Subaru models. Subaru had already said that it would be adding Impreza production to the Lafayette facility, it’s only assembly plant in North America. Easterday said that because of the addition of Impreza production, the loss of the Camry contract won’t affect employment levels at SIA. Other models may be added to the flexible facility.

“We also know there are future projects that Subaru has in mind for our plant that should add several hundred jobs in the future, possibly by 2018.”

The loss of the Camry contract may be a blessing in disguise since Subaru needs more capacity if it will meet its goal of half a million U.S. sales by 2016, up from about 420,000 this year.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

47 Comments on “Subaru to End Camry Production for Toyota at Indiana Plant...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Notice how when production line photos seek to show happy, healthy and white American workers, those workers are invariably lifting or guiding some large body component into place?

    What else exactly can humans do in a modern production line environment?

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      It’s easy to understand why.

      How exciting is it to see workers snapping on minor pieces of trim, or sticking on decals?

      • 0 avatar
        AJ

        About two years ago I was in the Jeep Wrangler (JK) factory and even seeing the decals being put on were cool. After the worker adds the decals, a computer scans it to make sure that it’s not only on correctly, but that it’s also the correct decal per the model. (I guess that means that they couldn’t trust the UAW worker to get it right.)

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Did the earlier report referred to here, about Impreza production moving to Indiana, mention Foresters? Until now Imprezas and Foresters all came from the Japan plant, and as is well known, they share many parts including (in the two most recent generations) the dashboard.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    They install windshields manually in that plant? I figured most plants making volume models had automated equipment for that.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      It’s a file photo from 2007 (so sayeth the caption)

      It could be a staged PR picture (as someone in marketing this is done all the time, people shot doing work that the general public “thinks” they do) or in 2007 it could have still been done manually (heck could still be done manually today)

      I’m sure someone in the B&B knows the real answer.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        All the plants I’ve been in install the windscreen in a similar fashion to this. A worker or workers using guide equipment to put the glass in place. I haven’t seen a fully automated process, although I’m sure it exists somewhere.

        • 0 avatar
          Kinosh

          I’ll second this. I imagine it’s difficult to get a windscreen (front or rear) placed on a car with an acceptable gap and water tightness automatically.

          On the other hand, I’m sure it has been done somewhere.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            When I was working in the Wixom plant back in 1997-ish, the glass was installed by robotic equipment. Seems to me a better fit could be had by machines with a vision system to ensure the glass is placed precisely in the opening.

        • 0 avatar

          When you take the Rouge Factory tour, which includes a walk around final assembly at Ford’s Michigan Truck plant, you can watch how robots take a windshield, apply adhesive and then install it on F-150s bodies. One cool thing is that the adhesive nozzle is stationary and they move the windshield around to apply the glue.

          • 0 avatar
            epc

            Here you can see a windshield being picked, glued, and placed automatically on a 2013 Mercedes A Class:

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            I don’t see anything at all. Are you sure that is the windshield for a 2013 Mercedes or are we really looking at the windshield installation on Wonder Woman’s jet?

            ;)

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      I haven’t seen an automated glass pick and place and I’ve been inside many plants (for 2 OEM’s). The seal application is automated in every instance. While repair being manual.

    • 0 avatar
      krayzie

      That intro to Jackie Chan’s Thunderbolt shows Mitsubishi installing windshields with robotic arms. However I’ve seen videos of the Wolfsburg plant where Golf windshields are installed manually just like the picture shown.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    It’s a curious announcement. It reads (as I’ve read on other sites) that Toyota is ending the deal due to product planning. The curious part is what’s the plan (I’m sure they have one, just CURIOUS on what it is, nothing sinister in my speculation).

    I would have guessed given how Subuaru is bumping into capacity issues it would have been the other way around – Subuaru is freeing up resources by ending the contract to increase their own production.

    [INSERT YOU HATE TOYOTA RANT HERE]

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My guess is that TMMK, which builds a bulk of the Camrys now, will see a larger than expected expansion when the Lexus ES SOPs there. The ES moves ~6000 units a month… 75k units a year. If they do the ES expansion to include the 100k Camry units lost at Subaru’s IN plant, they are right back to where they were capacity wise. I’m not at a vehicle plant, but at a power train plant, it is hard to justify a full line for 6000 units a month. 15k to 20k/month is historically easier to make a case.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Thanks for the insight. Quentin, someone will be quick to point out that the ES is built on the Avalon platform now (no longer Camry) so does that make a difference?

        I know Toyota has massive excellence in being able to build multiple products on the same line (a key principal of LEAN manufacturing)

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          From what I’ve gathered, there are lines at TMMK that run the Avalon and Camry down the same path already. I figure it would be just as easy to replace that Avalon with an ES. More likely you’d see one line go to ES and Avalon exclusively. From what I’ve read on Nasioc, Subaru Indiana only built L and LE Camrys while TMMK built everything. You have to remember that Venza is also built there, too.

          • 0 avatar
            Kinosh

            It’s an issue of takt time and process quality. Lincoln/Lexus/Cadillac are held to higher quality standards than the more pedestrian models. You may need additional inspections or higher end equipment that can provide a better paint finish or rust protection.

            Line 1 at TMMK runs Camry/Avalon
            Line 2 at TMMK runs Camry/Venza (80% sure here).

            SIA builds all trim levels of the four-cylinder models. All hybrid and V6 production are at TMMK.

            Quentin, do you know how TMMC runs the line that builds RX350? Do they also run Toyotas down it?

          • 0 avatar
            Kinosh

            SIA currently builds all trim levels (L, LE, and XLE) but ONLY four-cylinders. All hybrid and V6 production is at TMMK.

          • 0 avatar
            Jonathan H.

            They’re building and entirely new assembly plant at TMMK for the ES that will keep it completely separate from the final assembly of the Toyota brand but will be on the same property. The paint shops will do double duty.

            They’ve already reworked all the employee parking lots and have broken ground on the actual building which should be done in March or April. Then the process of outfitting the assembly line will begin.

            To address the comment below, Line 1 assembles the Camry, Avalon and Avalon Hybrid. Line 2 handles the Camry, Camry Hybrid and Venza.

            This is pure speculation on my part but I’d say that the Venza will leave TMMK. Either through relocation or cancellation of the model which would free up more capacity for the Camry. I doubt you’ll ever see a Toyota badge and Lexus badges being assembled alongside each other.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            TMMC is RX350 only. Corolla is a different plant on the same site.

            Did not know that ES was getting a plant to itself! That is a huge investment. I simply can’t believe how big TMMK has gotten and will be getting. Great stuff for central KY.

            I’m heading to Louisville today for my brother’s wedding, oddly enough. Will be heading just past Georgetown.

          • 0 avatar
            Josh83

            You are correct, all Avalon production and some camry production is handled in Plant one. All vena, all camry hybrid, and some gas camry production is handled in Plant two. There is enough extra space in the body shop that they are not actually expanding, they are just rearranging. There will be a wall built to separate Lexus from Toyota. Assembly is getting a new building. Currently, line one takt time is 52 seconds, Lexus takt time will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 240 seconds. And I’m 95% sure we currently seat ~2000 windshields a day by hand. It is my understanding that the only robots in assembly put the battery’s in the engine bay.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Caption:

    “Sh!t! They are feeding us Legacy windshields on the Camry line again.
    Pull this one off!!”

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I don’t know much about Subaru’s setup, but I do know that some vehicle plants can run a RWD based, body on frame SUV mixed in an assembly line with a FWD based CUV back to back. Craziest thing I’ve ever seen in vehicle manufacturing. They can do sequence builds with wildly different vehicles on the same line back to back.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Wixom used to build the BOF Town Car on the same line as the FWD unibody Continental. I believe it may have been the first plant to do that all those years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          Both of those are RWD, right? The thing that jumped out at me was the FWD, AWD, 4WD, and RWD on the same line. Pretty near.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            No, the 1988 and on Continental was FWD. It shared a platform with the Taurus, among other vehicles.

            Wixom produced the Continental, LS, Thunderbird, and Town Car at the same time for a couple years. Before the LS, Wixom also built the Mark series coupes.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That final Continental – I can’t believe how long they carried it on. It didn’t deserve to wear that name, such an affront. The design was okay, save for the Taurus doors and door handles, which made the whole thing look sloppy.

            Even the interior was nearly a pass. But wasting their time on FWD and a V8. Ugh.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Ford should have just killed it in the 80s if they weren’t going to be serious about what that name meant. Almost any other Lincoln model name from the 50s-70s would have been fine. Capri, Premiere, whatever. Or just make up some non-MKgarbage name. I still see plenty of them around since I sometimes work in the Ford stronghold of Detroit’s western suburbs. Some are in great condition.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          Are you certain they didn’t have their two separate chassis lines at that point in time?

          Toyota and Honda have been doing this for decades. The trick lying in their body shops. Any auto plant can knock out different cars on Paint, Chassis and Final. Your body shop is where the investment goes to make your plant flexible.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I think the chassis lines were seperate. Last time I was in Wixom Assembly was my first year of college, so I may have been mistaken. I remember Thunderbirds coming off the line in a different part of the plant than Town Cars.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Thunderbirds / LS came from the same chassis line (same platform). I imagine that line was the D186 became the DEW98. I was there for a week yanking DC AIS boxes for another plant.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yes the Thunderbird and LS were on the same line. I don’t remember if they were building the previous gen Thunderbird at Wixom with the Mark VIII or just with the Cougar in Lorain.

            I had a extremely high mileage Mark VII for awhile in high school that was also built in Wixom. I remember taking it to its birthplace on an after school trip to see the plant and yet to be released 11th gen Thunderbird.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Previous gen T-bird was built in Lorain with the Cougar. Mark VIII had it’s own line separate from the TC/Conti line.

            The Mark VIII line moved so slowly you had to pick a reference point like a pole to detect that the line was in fact moving. The good news is that the operators had plenty of time to do their respective jobs right – most of the issues with MK VIII’s were not assembly related. The issues those cars had were rooted in engineering failures or penny-pinching, not because someone screwed it together wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        roger628

        Ford has been doing that at Wixom since 1967, when they had to build BOF T-Birds on the same line with Unibody Lincolns. This arrangement went for 2 model years, and was evidently revived in ’84 when the unibody MK-VII came on line.

      • 0 avatar
        krayzie

        I’ve seen videos of the Subaru Gunma Plant building BRZ where it is mixed into the same production line back to back with a whole bunch of small Japanese delivery trucks.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’ve driven by that plant many a time, and they always have the models they produce out by the highway on a platform. But they never had a Camry out there. I suspect the gen public is too dumb and would just be confused.

  • avatar

    Twenty years ago the Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky was the dominant regional newspaper and close to the top ten American papers in circulation. How the mighty have fallen.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “award-winning Camry production contract “? I’m confused, does “award-winning” refer to the Camry or the contract? If the Camry, meh, cars are like kindergartners, they all get awards for something. If the contract, wow, that’s one awards ceremony I can miss.

    • 0 avatar
      Kinosh

      JD power ranks auto plants. Based on warranty claims, the SIA Camry is the worldwide leader in production quality. Now, this may have something to do with only assembling one model with one engine and limited trim options…

      Most other, more flexible auto lines (GM’s Flex line, most other Toyota production lines) don’t have a chance in hell of winning because of the increased complexity of their operations.

  • avatar
    caltemus

    “ Based on changes in Toyotas production plans, they have decided that the award-winning Camry production contract will not be renewed, the ”

    What’s with the weird formatting?

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    I’ve read elsewhere the Subaru plant had better Camry reliability numbers than the other Camry plant. Quality might take a hit, but Subaru definitely gained some help from Toyota with vehicle electronics, and probably with the tranny too. Time will tell.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India