Want a Truly Japanese 2018 Toyota Camry? Examine VINs Closely for the Next Few Months
As all-new 2018 Toyota Camrys begin to trickle into Toyota’s U.S. dealers over the coming weeks, take a close look at the VIN.
It’s viewable through the windshield on the driver’s side. See that first number? It’s likely a 4, which means this Camry was built in Georgetown, Kentucky.
But there’s a chance that the VIN on the new 2018 Camry sitting on your local Toyota dealer’s lot doesn’t begin with a number at all.
You’re looking at the once-coveted J-VIN. Ooh la la.
According to the Automotive News Data Center, not a single one of the new Toyota Camrys sold in the United States so far this year have been built outside of the United States — they’re all domestic cars. Reaching back over the last few years likewise reveals very few Camry imports: only 321 of the 857,961 Camrys sold in the U.S. in 2014 and 2015 were imported.
But the transition to an all-new, TNGA-based Toyota Camry at the Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant, the first transition Georgetown has ever done for a completely new model, is challenging. Although the Toyota New Global Architecture is intended to improve efficiency, Wards Auto reports the Kentucky factory “will take a couple steps back before it can move forward in efficiency.”
Toyota has increased the Georgetown workforce to the highest level ever in order to ease the transition to an all-new Camry, but ramping up to full capacity won’t happen overnight. And Toyota does plan to use much of the Georgetown plant’s capacity, operating under the belief that a new Camry can spur demand across the midsize segment.
Yet while Toyota increases production of the 2018 Camry in Kentucky, where the Toyota Avalon and Lexus ES350 are also assembled, dealers will also receive some 2018 Camrys from Toyota’s plant in Tsutsumi, Japan. Wards says shipments from Japan will be “dialed down” by the end of August once Toyota’s local facility is operating the way it was designed to do so.
In the meantime, for customers willing to buy a new car in its first model year, there is once again an option to source your “Japanese car” from Japan.
So there’ll be superior quality and craftsmanship? Probably not. Camrys hardly became known as reliability nightmares when U.S. production began nearly thirty years ago.
But there’s still a certain segment of the population that wants their BMWs to come from Germany and not South Carolina, who want to drive Hamtramck-built Buicks rather than China-built Buicks, and their Toyotas to come from Japan rather than Kentucky.
For that demographic, there will be a handful of Tsutsumi-built 2018 Camrys. But probably not for long.
More by Timothy Cain
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