Lexus starts US production in Kentucky
Lexus is celebrating the start of production of its ES 350 sedan at Toyota‘s production facility in Georgetown, Kentucky. The ES is the first-ever Lexus to be built on U.S. soil.
Lexus parent Toyota spent $360 million on the Georgetown plant over the last two years to ready it for ES production. Toyota also builds the ES’ mainstream cousin at the facility, the Toyota Camry.
“This is really a proud moment for us and brings us full circle,” said Wil James, president, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. “To be the first wholly owned plant, building the number one best-selling car in America, the Camry, for 13 years in a row, and then to be selected to build the first Lexus is truly a tribute to our team members.”
The additional Lexus line will build about 50,000 vehicles per year, bringing the plant’s total annual capacity to 550,000 units. Total employment at the plant is now 7,500, with the new Lexus line accounting for 10 percent of those jobs.
In order to prepare for Lexus production, plant employees went through 1.5 million hours in training. Several staff members were also flown to Japan, where the ES was previously built, to learn the “art of Lexus craftsmanship.”
“One of the first things we did was purchase 22 brand-new ES 350s from a local dealer,” Mike Bridge, manager of the Lexus line, said. “We brought them in-house, and repeatedly tore them down into 2,000 pieces and built them back up. We learned every facet of this vehicle; how to put it together the right way.”
The Kentucky-made Lexus models should begin showing up in dealer showrooms over the next few months.