“Made in Japan” is a stamp of honor worn by many Toyota vehicles in the United States. For decades, vehicles built in the Land of the Rising Sun were synonymous with quality and known for exceptional build quality. That’s still true today, but a future is in sight when all Toyota cars sold here in the U.S. will have also been built in North America.
What would that mean for the definition of a “domestic car”? Would Toyota’s reputation for quality remain as strong?
This is nowhere near a done deal, but considering the vast majority of Toyotas sold here are already built here, it’s a possibility that should be taken seriously.
Currently about 70 percent of Toyotas sold in the U.S. are built in North America. That includes the Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Tacoma, Tundra, Sienna and RAV4. Models built in Japan are the Yaris, FJ Cruiser and Land Cruiser. The easiest way to make all Toyota vehicles sold here American-made would be to simply the discontinue the ones that aren’t.
Really, would anyone miss the Yaris and FJ Cruiser? Didn’t think so. The Land Cruiser certainly has a loyal following, but maybe it could be the lone exception for import. The Prius, currently built in Japan, could have production shifted to the U.S. in 2015.
Whatever Toyota plans to do about production, there’s no question it is increasing its American work force and becoming as domestic a brand as Ford and Chevrolet. The Detroit Free Press said,
Toyota has also expanded design and engineering centers, such as the CALTY styling studio near Los Angeles and its technical center in Ann Arbor.
Last year, Toyota added or announced 3,500 new jobs and investment of $1.6 billion in North America.
With so much engineering, design, manufacturing and investment in the U.S., when does Toyota stop being a foreign brand?