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Construction of the first Lexus assembly line in the US has officially begun, with the Lexus ES350 set to become the first US-built model to roll off the line in 2015.

Based at Toyota Motor Manufacturing’s Georgetown plant in Kentucky, the new Lexus assembly line, announced last April, will localise production of the ES350 from September next year.

The brand’s top-selling sedan in the US – 72,581 units were sold there in 2013, up nearly 30 per cent from 2012 – the ES has never been assembled outside of Japan.

Photo by Joseph Rey Au

Part of a US$360 million investment by Toyota into its Kentucky facilities, the production shift is in line with Japanese car maker’s strategy to assemble vehicles in markets where its customers live.

Lexus says the new assembly line will generate 750 new jobs, with annual production planned for approximately 50,000 units. The ES300h will continue to be imported from Japan to satisfy demand for the petrol-electric model.

Toyota’s largest in North America, the Kentucky plant started production in May 1988, employs approximately 6600 full time workers and currently produces 500,000 Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid and Venza vehicles along with 600,000 four-cylinder and V6 engines per year.

Locally, Toyota Australia is only months away from announcing whether it will produce the next-generation Camry from 2017/2018 or cease local production at that time, in the wake of the Australian exits of both Ford in 2016 and Holden the year after.

  • Sydlocal

    There goes Lexus reliability/quality….

    • Phil

      that tired old argument again? They’ve been building the RX in Canada for years, not that anybody noticed a difference… the Toyota plant in Kentucky has 4 JD Power Gold awards for quality. Sticking Lexus badges on a tarted up Camry won’t be much of a challenge to them.

      • Sydlocal

        ….and of course JD power is the authority on everything!
        Whilst quality may be ok (in most cases), other brands etc that have factories in the US have had a reduction in at least reliability (and quality in many cases) with their cars built in the US. For example in the real world and over a period of time not usually covered by your favourite JD power, the US plants have at times produced less reliable vehicles than most of the manufacturer’s other plants. BMW is a classic example. Their US built vehicles have been far less reliable than even the South African built models for example.

        • Phil

          no, JD Power is not the authority on everything. But they’re a far more reliable authority than you or I, seeing their gold awards to manufacturing plants are evidence based, by warranty claims per 100 vehicles. I look forward to seeing your data sources and the comprehensive analysis that goes with it.

          • Sydlocal

            Well you always quote JD power whenever you can as if they are! It is as if you don’t know that there are other survey organisations out there. I myself look at more than one source!

            You would hope the cars are ok during the warranty period of 2-5 years depending on warranty length. As I mentioned, I was talking about the period outside JD Power, ie when cars are out of warranty. Having had a lot to do with BMWs through clubs/personal experience etc I can quite comfortably say that the X5 is one of their worst cars when it comes to reliability. Nice to drive of course, but takes a bit of work/effort to keep them going. From other research I have done using more than one source the early Mercedes M class, also built in the US, has a poor reputation for reliability as well.

            In all reality though, Toyota aren’t BMW or Mercedes so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if a Lexus built in the USA is just as good as one built in Japan. There maybe some small differences, but I think they would be negligible. There was a little sarcasm in my original statement, but unfortunately that is one thing that is hard to convey on the net!!!!

          • Phil

            I thought we we talking about Lexus, not Mercedes and BMW. To the best of my knowledge, they won’t be building cars for Lexus 😉

            And I’m still waiting for the results of your research. Call it a peer review… should I hold my breath?

          • Sydlocal

            I was talking about cars in general built in the USA. I thought any reasonable person didn’t need it spelled out!

          • Brad

            We get it sydlocal. You don’t like US built cars. Stop being a troll.

          • Sydlocal

            I also didn’t know personal experiences in things and those of others don’t count!

    • Observer

      Mercedes-Benz and BMW are already manufacturing cars there. Given Lexus held the title of the best selling Luxury Brand title for 11 or so years in the USA I doubt they’d stuff it up

      • Sydlocal

        …and it has done wonders for BMW and Mercedes with the X5 and M Class being two of the most unreliable models those brands have produced over the last decade or two! Not to mention the god awful BMW Z3. They have improved over the years but they are still not up to the respective brands normal standards.

        • suomi95

          The BMW X5 issue has been the selection of some components that do not have good durability and when they wear out cost considerable amounts to replace. X5s are ok when new and lowish Kms….but as they age and/or get more kms on board things wear out…..more so than should be the expectation.

          • Sydlocal

            They have a lot of electrical gremlins too. The ZF transmission can also give some troubles, especially with the ‘lifetime fill’ of transmission fluid. Sometimes they fail at less than 100,000km costing $$$$$ to fix. Still very nice to drive though. Keep the preventative maintenance up on them and they can be ok.

  • Guest

    What makes America so popular to manufacture cars there, but not in Australia?

    • Horsie

      10 times the population

      • Jacob

        The people of AUS also think that having sky-high rents and electricity prices are a good thing.

        High minimum wages are a good thing, yes, but not high rents and power prices.

    • Vins

      10 times lower in wages. May be not that much but definitely more sustainable for the manufacturer

    • Otto

      They sell more vehicles there which reduces shipping costs, and they probably get U.S. government incentives to build their factories there and employ U.S. residents.

    • Shak

      A massive population, and also some very well crafted trade policies designed to ensure that importing some types of cars is prohibitively expensive. Also in many states, Governments which realise the value of manufacturing and are happy to support it and its many flown on benefits.

      Australia as a nation, has none of these things. We’re content with digging up rocks and extracting gas and then selling it off to the lowest bidder.

  • Casual observer

    Your personal experience in Australia with BMWs reliability compared to the US JD Power survey has no relevance to meaningful discussion on Lexus reliability in the US.
    I have observed similar rants by you in the past and you just seem to swoop on any connection no matter how remote to rave on about the unreliability of BMWs in particular.
    You never reference any of your facts (like you last statement about SA and US BMWs) and your statements come across like you are conducting some “know all” vendetta when really you demonstrate you know very little.

    • Sydlocal

      Fair enough! Believe it not I am actually a BMW fan and have owned 2 over the years. I still own one now and wouldn’t have it any other way.
      I am just not blinded about my favorite brand believing they are perfect and the ‘be all and end all’ like many people are about their favorite brand (I have seen it a lot on this site). As much as I like them and will continue to own one for as long as I can, I can honestly say they are not the most reliable brand I have owned and take a little bit of extra work in preventative maintenance to keep them going well, like most high performance equipment that are engineered to such fine tolerances etc. It is something I am more than willing to accept to be able to enjoy the driving experience my BMWs have offered over the years.
      I have no ‘vendetta’ against BMW, I am just not blinded from the fact they they are not the epitome of reliability. With the BMW clubs I have been in and BMW dedicated forums worldwide I am a part of there is a common theme of common components that fail (window regulators are notorious for failing across nearly all models, especially outside of warranty and hence outside of the scope of JD power type surveys) and many owners have mentioned the reliability is not as good as other cars they have owned. But as enthusiasts we accept that and wouldn’t have it any other way. It is pretty much like Alfa Romeo from a decade or two ago. They may break down a fair bit and many people knew it, but the owners still loved them and enjoy ‘tinkering’/fault finding/repairing it! That is essentially me with BMW!

      I am sorry for accepting the fact that something I like is not perfect. I never realised that it automatically means I have a vendetta against one of my favorite possessions/brand. I will now live in the ‘delusional world’ thinking that anything I have an interest in is absolutely perfect. Thank-you for the attitude re-adjustment! :-)

  • joshua

    Please stop wasting my valuable internet time unless you have evidence to backup your facts.

    • Sydlocal

      I’m not forcing you to read it. It is not my fault you are stupid enough to keep reading something that you think wastes your time and then spend time complaining about your time being wasted… :-)

  • nugsdad

    LEXUS = Luxury EXport United States.
    Might need to change name
    Suggestion MADe United States = MADUS