Want a Truly Japanese 2018 Toyota Camry? Examine VINs Closely for the Next Few Months

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
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.

[Images: Toyota]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Nels0300 Nels0300 on Jul 10, 2017

    I'd prefer a J-VIN Camry, but Kentucky has been building them for so long it probably doesn't matter. I'd prefer any car I buy be made in the manufacturer's country of origin, fully realizing in many cases it doesn't matter (but in some cases it does, see Mazda/Mexico mention above) If I bought a German car, the "W" VIN is preferable to me over South Africa, Mexico, or South Carolina. Same deal with Japanese, my J-VIN early 90s Hondas were fantastic. I loved that my Mustang was made at River Rouge where Model Ts and WWI boats had been made. Way cooler than Canada, "the country that invented Rock & Roll" according to GM marketing, where the Camaro was made. I even find it cool that my Elantra Sport came from Ulsan, Korea, and not Alabama.

  • Tlccar Tlccar on Jul 12, 2017

    My 1999 Accord EX with J vin has been a phenomenal car. Unlike many I have seen laden with rust mine is totally rust free. Coincidence? Not sure. But it still rides and drives like a new car some 18 years later. The only snafu with having a Japanese built car is that sometimes a part may be specific to that vin so auto parts stores can mess up if you need sonething. Other than that I say J vin all the way!!

  • Wjtinfwb How does the ICE mid-engine C8 platform work for... anything else? A sedan? SUV? With a mid engine configuration? A mid-engine SUV will have to be Suburban sized to offer the utility of a CRV. GM should dust off the Omega platform designed for the Cadillac CT6 for an SUV/Sedan offering with exceptional handling, Rear or AWD capability and acceptable space utilization. They also need to focus on interior fit & finish, trim choices and high quality final engineering and assembly. What GM doesn't need is another half-baked product with a storied and prestigious badge on the decklid and a premium price on the Monroney. No more Cimarron's, Allante's or X-cars needed to tarnish the reputation of Corvette.
  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck Wait...how do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?
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