Toyota Claims New Camry Represents an Evolution for the Entire Company

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Toyota is claiming that its TNGA modular platform represents more than a sea change for the Camry. It points to an entirely new direction for the company as a whole, highlighting its commitment to American manufacturing and a future involving more exciting vehicles.

While the latter remains to be seen, the Toyota New Global Architecture has warped the company’s midsize sedan into something almost unrecognizable. With substantially “more-aggressive” styling, the Camry is also boasting efficiency and performance gains — thanks to the platform’s low center of gravity and increased rigidity. But Toyota doesn’t want to keep the technology limited to America’s best-selling sedan, the architecture and concept are set to be baked into future vehicles as well. Because what good is cost-saving modular platform if you are only use it on a single model?

“TNGA is really about an overhaul mindset for the company,” explained Tom Burrows, Toyota project manager for vehicle quality and production engineering, to Automotive News. “It’s an opportunity for the designers, stylists and our production engineering and manufacturing to think about — and create — what is the best vehicle possible, the best plant possible.”

The plant is the TMMK assembly plant in Georgetown, KY. Toyota is spending $1.3 billion in upgrades at the plant to ensure production of the Camry remains ready for assembly using the TNGA platform, while also prepping the facility for future models. According to Toyota, TMMK hired more than 700 additional people to support the launch of the new Camry, bringing its total number of employees to over 8,000. As the largest Toyota plant in the world, TMMK has produced more than 11 million vehicles in its 31 years, over 8 million of which were Camry sedans.

“The launch of the next-generation Camry is important for Toyota in America, and expands the company’s footprint in, and commitment to, Kentucky,” said Wil James, president of TMMK, during last week’s production launch of the new model. “We are proud to be the first in North America to produce a vehicle with TNGA. It’s a testament to the skill and dedication of our team members.”

Toyota New Global Architecture facilities are appearing worldwide to give the Japanese automaker some much-needed flexibility within the marketplace. While Mexico will be using the modular platform to produce the updated Corolla, its assembly lines will be better poised to pick up the slack on other vehicles without undergoing extensive conversions. Likewise, the Kentucky plant will be able to use TNGA to build the Camry and other body styles conducive to American tastes — crossovers, like the RAV4, for example.

A shrewd move if U.S. car sales continue to give way to CUVs.

The contemporary architecture makes the radiator part of the engine module, meaning it doesn’t have to be installed separately. TNGA vehicles can also take four and the six-cylinder motors for the gasoline-powered cars, as well as hybrid engines without forcing assembly lines to reconfigure themselves quite so heavily as before. It’s dollars and cents but it adds up for a manufacturer.

The only exception would be body-on-frame trucks and SUVs, which obviously wouldn’t use the same framework.

Once Toyota’s Avalon switches to the platform in 2018, the Georgetown plant can eliminate one of its three trim assembly lines due to the streamlining of tasks and the use of modular assemblies, said Dan Antis, vice president of manufacturing at TMMK. “As a result of TNGA and the commonization of the underbody, it makes it easier for us to bring in any vehicle, whether its an SUV or another car,” Antis explained.

[Images: Toyota]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Jul 03, 2017

    Is there word when the Lexus ES will be switching to this platform? It would be a bit scandalous if there is a new Avalon before there is a new ES. (Given that the ES is likely the bigger cash cow for Toyota.)

    • Jalop1991 Jalop1991 on Jul 03, 2017

      The Avalon comes in 2019, a year after the Camry. Given that since 2013 the ES has been built on the Avalon platform, I'll let you do the math.

  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on Jul 04, 2017

    I am interested to see where the next Camry will be built (for the Australian market), seeing as the Altona plant will close October 3rd, 2017. As an aside, are they using a revised version of the existing 3.5 2GR-FE V6 in the new Camry? Or is there a all-new V6 being fitted in?

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