In 1957, the year Round Table won the 33rd 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 years, Toyota vehicles became so popular in this country that the Japanese automaker began to build manufacturing plants across the U.S. In 1986, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) broke ground on a plant near Georgetown, Ky., 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 $6 billion investment in Kentucky includes a state-of-the-art automotive complex in Georgetown, the company’s largest vehicle manufacturing facility in the world. The total facility size exceeds 8.1 million square feet, which equals about 169 football fields under one roof.
The Georgetown facility has the capacity to produce 550,000 vehicles and more than 600,000 engines annually with more than 7,500 full-time employees. Toyota’s current Kentucky-made products include the Camry and Camry Hybrid, Avalon and Avalon Hybrid, and the Venza. In 2015, the Georgetown plant began to produce the first U.S.-assembled Lexus – the ES.
Additionally, more than 100 suppliers located in Kentucky support Toyota’s manufacturing operation in the Bluegrass.
Toyota initially hired team members from nearly every one of Kentucky’s 120 counties and continues its philosophy of giving back to the community and to the state through monetary contributions and personal involvement of team members. Toyota has donated nearly $119 million to charitable organizations throughout Kentucky. This financial commitment reflects Toyota’s philosophy of partnering with philanthropic organizations – with a focus on education, safety and the environment – in an effort to use the company’s experience in building quality vehicles to benefit and advance local nonprofits.
Tours of Toyota’s plant in Georgetown are available weekly. For more information, go to visittoyotaky.com.