Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Georgetown, Kentucky has the distinction of being the company’s first standalone production facility in America and until now has been known for producing one of Toyota’s best sellers – the Camry.
Now, 26 years after it commenced manufacturing and with an investment of USD 360 million, the plant has begun to roll out Lexus cars. The first US-produced Lexus ES 350 was unveiled before thousands of team members at a special ceremony.
The preparations for manufacturing the Lexus ES 350 has been going on for two and a half years. The plant has received a dedicated assembly line that will have a capacity to produce 50,000 vehicles and has also added 750 new jobs. The team members have underwent extensive training for building a Lexus. They have gone through 1.5 million hours of training which included trips to Japan to learn the craftsmanship the company is known for. The team members also visited dealers to gain an understanding of customer service and expectations that they have from the brand. Driving an ES on Kentucky roads was also part of the program and this was probably to give them an idea of what the final product felt like.
Giving further insights into the training regimen is Mike Bridge, a 13-year team member at the Kentucky plant and now assembly manager on the Lexus line. He says, “One of the first things we did was purchase 22 brand-new ES 350s from a local dealer. 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.”
With the addition of the Lexus brand, the Kentucky plant will have an annual production capacity of 5,50,000 units. 7,500 employees work at the plant as of now.