By on July 10, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry production line - Image: ToyotaAs 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.”2018 Toyota Camry XSE - Image: ToyotaToyota 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.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

37 Comments on “Want a Truly Japanese 2018 Toyota Camry? Examine VINs Closely for the Next Few Months...”


  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I honestly think the J-VIN allure is fading. I was in a friend’s ’09 J-VIN Corolla a few weeks back, nothing remotely special or nice about it, aside from it being the last generation with nice soft velour-type cloth seats. Interior plastics are horrible, and he had an alternator fail at 67k miles (not exactly a lemon, but slightly disappointing). I’m sure one built elsewhere would be no different.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    My J-Vin TSX is a flaming pile of garbage.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Don’t hold back – tell us how you really feel!

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Discovered a bunch of rust on the car when washing it this weekend. Have spent probably $2k in non-maintenance repairs on the car. Had it 5.5 years and 88k miles. Not what I expect from an Acura/Honda. I’ll be shopping elsewhere next time.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      This is not what people expect from Honda but unfortunately Honda is just that -overrated in reliability department.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        I’ve personally owned 5 H/As, and my family as a whole has owned at least 14. NONE have been as bad as this 2011 TSX.

        • 0 avatar
          johnds

          I think there were problems from recession era cost cutting. My 2008 Crv hasn’t been my favorite. Still reliable though. Didn’t Japan get hit by a giant earthquake/Tsunami in 2011? I think 2011 was a terrible year for Japan.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “This is not what people expect from Honda but unfortunately Honda is just that -overrated in reliability department.”

        YES.

        But they continue to make money in the world of leasing, where (a) people still think of Hondas as reliable, and (b) it just doesn’t matter what the facts are when everything’s a 3 year lease.

        • 0 avatar
          DearS

          We’ve owned about a dozen Honda vehicles including 3 right now. Not much to complaint about. Spent $400 bucks in 61k miles on my current one with 139k. Over $2000 on the other. It has over 200k and we bought it with 162k for $2200.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            We likewise have had good service from our Hondas historically, although our ’90 Wagon did need a headgasket at like 60-ish k due to some sort of factory defect. Amazingly, it was good-willed by the dealer we had bought it from as a used car (it may have happened within the 30 day warranty period?). No serious issues after that in the 10 years that we owned it, just some front end work from the horrible Upstate NY roads and my mom’s ambivalence about dodging potholes (a broken spring, front upper and lower balljoints), and some CV axles after the boots tore as they tended to on older Hondas after 12 years or so back in the day. Oh and the gas tank after the filler neck rotted out some time around year 16. The ’07 Fit has definitely lived up to expectations although the interior got a dash rattle after the first winter (classic Honda).

          • 0 avatar
            johnds

            I’ve got $1000 extra into my 184,000 mile 2007 Accord SE manual because the A/C compressor failed. It’s been a great car, so I paid the extra $$ to have great A/C. Other than maintenance like tires, oil, etc, I think I could go 284,000 + miles at least.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            johnds, I helped a friend avoid a ’04 Accord (5spd 4cyl, LX) that had the odometer rolled back to 100k. True mileage about 264k. Amazingly, it still drove really tight and the interior aside from some weird damage to a few of the HVAC dash vents, held up fantastically. Someone could definitely have been fooled into thinking it was a 100k car. What gave it away was the seller proudly stating that the clutch had just been replaced, and me then digging in the glovebox and finding a receipt with the true mileage.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            DearS and gtemnykh: that’s the kind of service we’ve had with all the Honda products we’ve owned – generators, lawn mowers, motorcycles and vehicles.

  • avatar
    woofyman

    My J-Vin Honda Fit has been awesome. Only a failed transmission pressure sensor so far.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My parents’ first year ’07 Base Fit (J-VIN) has been trouble free so far in a decade’s worth of use, although I think the rear shocks are starting to leak. Given that it is their hobby farm truckster and gets driven on unpaved roads with regularity, I wouldn’t necessarily hold it against the car. I think one of the exhaust heat shields may have gotten rusty and started rattling as well (standard practice in the salt belt). But zero mechanical/electrical/etc issues to speak of.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    you can go and Grab any Mazda6 and it will be J-vin

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “So there’ll be superior quality and craftsmanship? Probably not.”

    Probably yes. Because when it comes to tool inspection/calibration, in Japan they just more anal about it.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      What do you base this on? Wouldn’t they use the same standards in the US? It’s not like this is dependent on the worker. It’d dependent on their defined operating procedures.

      If it’s truly a nationality thing, why is Mitsubishi so poorly put together? Suzuki? Isuzu? Heck, I’ll even throw Nissan into the mix.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        My J-Trooper at 17 years and 250k miles disagrees…the only sore spot has been the French-sourced GM transmission shared with BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “Mitsubishi so poorly put together? Suzuki? Isuzu? ”

        All the truly Japanese versions of those vehicles tend to be quite good actually. All the Daewoo sourced trash badged as Suzuki hardly counts. I’ll take a clean gen II Montero over literally any domestic made SUV, ever. Insanely overbuilt trucks, almost to Land Cruiser levels.

    • 0 avatar
      DearS

      Considering how good Accords and Camrys have been, I think Ohio is doing a great job.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    J is without meaning on a Camry.

    Fanaticism on tool inspection/calibration is going to be part of the SOPs, not just Japan is more anal. The problem has typically been that America has engineers that are plenty OCD, but people didn’t want to spend the money to let them do their thing. As long as their Japanese overlords are willing to fund inspections just like in Japan, the American version won’t be less inspected or calibrated.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    I’d bet that as Japanese workers, Japanese parts suppliers have gone through so much yen-pinching over the past decade+, any difference is mere perception.

    Is there money in the Mythbusters budget to buy 100 J-Vin Camrys and 100 KY Camrys for a face-off?

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Our JHMRN… Honda Stream has double the maintenance expenditures as our JTDBE… Toyota Camry. How does that work out? Does the J-VIN-stereotype allow for deviation?

  • avatar
    JMII

    What is the explanation of the 321 that were imported before? Seems like such a low number to not even be worth the effort/cost.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    Sorry, I’d do the exact opposite. Hypothetically speaking, if I shopped for a Camry (a BIG hypothetical, I don’t think I’d be buying a Camry any time soon, or ever) I would intentionally seek the VIN for US-manufacture and buy it over the J VIN.

    I think to intentionally seek out J VINs is splitting hairs. I bet there would be no noticable differences in quality, reliability, fit and finish, longevity, etc.

    Nothing against Japan (or any other country)…I would rather support my home turf if I am presented with the opportunity to do so.

  • avatar

    My Hamtramck-built cars are fantastic, so take that.

  • avatar
    KevinC

    We recently bought a Mazda3, and it’s a Japan-produced car.. I probably wouldn’t care about a Camry with the Kentucky plant up and running for 30 years. or a VW out of Puebla, where quality is on par with the Wolfsburg cars. But Mazda only set up that Mexico factory in 2014, and I read a 2015 article talking about teething pains and also the quest to bring NA parts content up to a higher percentage to reach NAFTA requirements. No thanks, 2015 is a little too close for comfort for me – perhaps things are up to speed now, perhaps it will take a while, like it did for VW. A check of in-stock Macda3’s at our trim level (Grand Touring) shows both Mexico- and Japan-produced cars in stock.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    This news should give HighDesertCat and jimmyyyyy a real chubby!

  • avatar
    nels0300

    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.

  • avatar
    tlccar

    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!!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • redapple: Hatch struts still work? W T Fudge? My sawed off broomstick handle was always in the back.
  • kosmo: “How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter,...
  • dividebytube: When I’m down south I’m taken aback by the number of decent looking old trucks and even G...
  • redapple: RED…. Great catch. Love it.
  • teddyc73: What an ugly rear end.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States