Toyota: Race’s sponsor is valued member of Central Kentucky
In 1957, the year Round Table won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, Toyota established a presence in the U.S. by setting up shop in a former Rambler dealership in Hollywood, Calif. That year, sales totaled just 287 of the Toyopet Crown, Toyota's first vehicle sold in the U.S.
Over the next several decades, Toyota vehicles became so popular in this country that the Japanese automaker began to build manufacturing plants across the U.S., its first being in nearby Georgetown. In 1986, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK) broke ground and two years later began producing the popular Camry, now America's best-selling car.
In 1996, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, five area Toyota dealerships and Toyota Motor Sales in Cincinnati teamed up to sponsor the Blue Grass Stakes, marking Toyota's first sponsorship of a horse race. As part of the sponsorship agreement, Keeneland replaces vehicles in its fleet with Toyotas.
Toyota's $5.9 billion investment in Kentucky includes a state-of-the-art automotive complex in Georgetown, the company's largest vehicle manufacturing facility in North America. The total facility size is 7.5 million square feet, which equals 156 football fields under one roof.
The Georgetown facility has the capacity to produce 500,000 vehicles and 600,000 engines annually with approximately 7,000 full-time employees. Toyota's Kentucky-made products currently include the Camry and Camry Hybrid, Avalon and Avalon Hybrid and the Venza. Additionally, over 100 suppliers located in Kentucky support Toyota's manufacturing operation in the Bluegrass.
In 2014, Toyota reached a production milestone when team members celebrated the 10-millionth vehicle manufactured at the Georgetown plant. Later this year, the plant will make history with production of the first U.S.-assembled Lexus, adding 50,000 vehicles to its current annual capacity.
Initially, Toyota hired team members from nearly every one of Kentucky's 120 counties and continues its philosophy of giving back to the communities where team members live. More than $111 million has been donated by Toyota's Kentucky plant to organizations throughout the state.