Turns out, you can teach an old robot new tricks. Toyota managed to shave 2 percent off the cost of the new Camry partly through the magic of recycling—by using equipment from the old Toyota plant in Fremont, California.
New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. was Toyota’s joint venture with GM, which the two companies shared until GM went through its messy bankruptcy in 2009. Tesla Motors, which bought the plant from Toyota, will use the site to build the upcoming Model S electric sedan. Toyota took some spare assembly robots and other equipment from the NUMMI venture for its Georgetown, Kentucky plant, where the Camry is built.
“They were lucky there happened to be a plant closing with surplus equipment available when they were developing the new model,” said Jim Hall, an automotive consultant, to Bloomberg. “They haven’t had that before.”
Compared to the outgoing model, the average price of the 2012 Camry is $550.63 less expensive. With strong competition from Ford and Hyundai, and Toyota’s reputation still recovering from the unintended acceleration crisis, the Camry couldn’t afford to increase its price. Even though the Camry retains its best-selling status, sales have been down 7 percent year-to-date through August—while the Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata have increased their numbers by 16 and 22 percent during the same time, respectively.