Toyota to build Camry hybrids at U.S. plant

Toyota announced plans yesterday to begin production of a new hybrid Camry model at a Kentucky plant, marking the Japanese automaker’s first foray into hybrid production in North America. With Camry sales tops in the U.S. last year and the company’s hybrid Prius selling used for higher than sticker price, Toyota sales exec Jim Press thinks combining the Camry with hybrid technology will be “like magic.” The cars should start rolling off assembly lines late in 2006, with initial output expected to be about 48,000 vehicles a year. Toyota will be investing some $10 million in the Kentucky plant, mostly for equipment modifications and employee training, but the state’s recently passed hybrid-friendly tax legislation will help recover some of the costs. Says Press, “Hopefully this will plant a seed, because the industry needs to go to [the hybrid] solution throughout all the products.” Word.