In Georgetown, Toyota Unveils its North American Engineering Center, Announces Additional $121 Million in TMMK Assembly Plant
02 Nov, 2017
Fresh off its announcement this spring of a $1.33 billion investment at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky Inc. (TMMK), Toyota continues to make big moves in Georgetown.
In September, company leaders announced another nearly $121 million in reinvestment, which will allow TMMK to increase production capacity for its 2.5-liter engines. The additional engines will support production of Toyota’s first American-made hybrid powertrain.
“We’re excited to be part of offering mobility solutions that benefit both our customers and the environment,” said Wil James, TMMK president. “We believe this technology is here to stay, and we look forward to Toyota continuing to be the global leader in gas-electric hybrids.”
Those reinvestments nearly overshadow another big piece of news. The company’s new $80 million production engineering campus, which will lend support to Toyota’s 14 North American plants, opened in Georgetown in October. Toyota first announced the project in late 2015. James said Toyota began moving employees to the facility this past summer.
The engineering center and its state-of-the-art lab became possible as Toyota began consolidating its North American headquarters to Texas. The previous Erlanger, Ky., lab was donated to the state for a new educational program, and now nearly all of Toyota’s North American production engineers will work in Georgetown.
James said it’s rare for the manufacturing industry to co-mingle technical and manufacturing staffs, and “sometimes the best decisions are not always made. But if you mix everyone together, you have a better chance to be innovative and much more collaborative in your decision-making.
“The beauty of our new arrangement is that they can work on things in the lab and come right out here to the plant, whether it’s the vehicle side or the engine unit, and test out some of their theories,” James added. “Or if we have a challenge with our technology in the plant, they can go back into the lab and help us more quickly understand the root of the problem and how to address it. This engineering site will be excellent for Toyota North America, and I think it will especially provide a little of that ‘special sauce.’
“One thing Gov. [Matt] Bevin speaks to is having Kentucky become a center of manufacturing and engineering excellence, and from Toyota’s point-of-view, having this lab on-site will do that for us.”