The assumption is easy to make. The Toyota Camry is a foreign-made car. After all, Toyota Motor Corporation was founded in Japan in 1937 by Kiichiro Toyoda and its headquarters remain in Japan.
But in late June, news came out that the Camry and the Toyota Sienna are as American as hot dogs and apple pie, according to Cars.com.
The Camry and Sienna earned the top two spots, respectively, in the annual Cars.com American-Made Index. This marks Camry’s return to the top spot for the first time in three years and the fifth time overall on the index.
“I think it is huge,” said Scott Middleton, general manager at Adams Toyota, 501 NE Colbern Road, Lee’s Summit. “The Camry is obviously our mainstay. It has been the best-selling car in America the last 13 years.
“It has to be 75 percent U.S. manufactured parts to qualify to be on the Cars.com list. If it has less than that, it can’t be on the list.”
The American-Made Index rates vehicles built and bought in the United States. Factors include the percentage of parts considered domestic under federal regulations, whether the car is assembled in the U.S. and U.S. sales.
Middleton said this shows the things Toyota is doing with investments in the United States are working.
The Camry is built in Georgetown, Ky., and the Sienna is assembled in Princeton, Ind.
But Toyota’s commitment to the U.S. market goes beyond just building cars and manufacturing parts in this country, Middleton said.
Toyota established the Calty Design Research studio in 1973. The Newport Beach, Calif., facility focuses on future innovation and creativity, and the Ann Arbor, Mich., facility is focused on production design development for North America.
“People right here in the United States are designing and developing cars for our needs and what we are looking for,” Middleton said.
“One of the things I hear at our national dealers meeting is that Toyota spends over $1 million every hour a year on research and development, which for me is huge for a car manufacturer to spend that kind of money to stay on the cutting edge of technology and different advancement.”
Middleton added that Toyota has 10 plants in the U.S., employs 365,000 people and has invested $21.2 billion in the American market.
“Even closer to home in Missouri, Toyota employs 4,080 and has a $1.1 billion investment in the state of Missouri and has given away $6.2 million in philanthropy,” Middleton said. “In Kansas, it’s 1,237 jobs, $160 million investment and $1.3 million donated in philanthropy.”
Toyota is definitely proud of the success of the Camry for more than a decade.
“We get people who come back again and again to buy a Camry because they have such great luck and pass it down to their kids and they get a new one,” Middleton said. “They are very inexpensive to own and operate.”
The recognition by Cars.com pleased Jim Lentz, Toyota North America CEO.
“These results are a testament to Toyota’s continued investment and growth in the United States,” Lentz said in a press release. “We are strengthening our commitments to American manufacturing so we can better satisfy the needs of our customers for decades to come.”
Adams Toyota has that same customer-friendly philosophy. The dealership has been at its current location in Lee’s Summit for 12 years. In just the last month, it completed renovations that were started in September.
“We just remodeled based solely on our customers, to make it more comfortable for them to do business with us and make it a more enjoyable experience when they come in, particularly for service,” Middleton said.
“Our philosophy is we don’t want you for one sale; we want you as a lifetime customer so we are going to do everything we can to make you happy, to make you want to come back again.”
See the American-Made Index at www.cars.com/articles/the-2015-american-made-index-1420680649381/
If you have a story you would like to see On the Move, email David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com.