Following up its announcement to export U.S.-built Camry models to Korea, Toyota officially announced the shift in Camry production today.
As expected, Korean-market Camrys will now be produced at Toyota’s assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, one of the automaker's largest production facilities. Toyota initially forecasts importation of 6000 Camrys into the Korean market per year.
The move follows last month’s announcement that U.S.-built Sienna minivans would also be shipped to Korea, a decision Toyota says it made months in advance of the recently passed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. That agreement was officially approved by South Korea’s parliament late last month, and will likely prove beneficial for Toyota now that the company can sidestep costly import tariffs it would otherwise have to pay to ship from Japan. The move to U.S. production of Korean-market Camrys also helps fight the rising cost of the yen, which eats into profits of each Japanese-produced Toyota sold in Korea.
Though this will mark the first time a U.S.-built Camry is exported outside of North America, Toyota isn’t new to exporting cars from the ‘States. The Japanese automaker began shipping vehicles built in the U.S. to other markets starting in 1988. Since then, Toyota reports exports from the U.S. have grown, increasing 30 percent in calendar year 2010 to roughly 100,000 units. Toyota says nearly 7000 team members of the Georgetown plant will be put to work building South Korea-bound Camrys, and claims that 20,000 more jobs will be created with vendors and suppliers in Kentucky and other states.
“The export of thousands of Camry vehicles to South Korea is an important development that builds on the great work of our talented U.S. team members as well as our extensive investments across North America to help maintain a strong, stable base of U.S. jobs,” said President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. Yoshimi Inaba. “We look forward to other opportunities to continue growing exports from our American operations.”
The first batch of U.S.-built Camry models are scheduled to arrive in South Korea in January, and will be shipped from the Port of Hueneme, near Oxnard, California.