The Toyota Camry is the best-selling car in America. It has been for quite some time. In fact, it was #1 in sales for the past 15 of 16 years. Last year, according to Autodata, there were 408,484 Camrys delivered in the U.S. The Accord came in second, at 366,678 units.
So what do you do when your car is still topping the charts and the car in its present setup arrived as a model year 2012, which means that it is still comparatively fresh, ready primarily for a “midcycle refresh”?
Well, it seems that the people at Toyota have an answer to that question which is pretty much unlike an answer that has been given in recent history, at least:
They’ve decided to change every bit of exterior sheet metal on the car except for the roof. They’ve gone inside the car and replaced many of the materials used. They’ve improved the suspension setup.
They’ve pretty much developed a new Camry.
On May 29, the 10-millionth car produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky—a.k.a., the “Georgetown Plant,” which went into production on May 26, 1988—rolled off the line. It was a Camry. The first car produced in the plant was a Camry, as well. (The Avalon and Venza are also built in Georgetown. The plant had built Sienna minivans and Camry Solara convertibles. Next year it will add Lexus ES350 production.)
On May 29, Monte Kaehr, the Camry chief engineer, joined John McElroy, Christie Schweinsberg of WardsAuto.com and me on “Autoline After Hours” to discuss the whys and hows of the development of the 2015 Toyota Camry.
Kaehr was worked at Toyota since 1992. And here’s something that ought to give any of you who are working on what seem to be comparatively small projects or programs: When Kaehr started with Toyota as a graduate engineer, he was designing hinges. Now he is the chief engineer on Toyota’s most-important product in what is arguably its most-important market