Click image to enlarge

Cambridge, Ontario – The first Lexus to be built outside of Japan rolled off the assembly line at Toyota’s Cambridge Ontario plant on Friday. The vehicle, a silver 2004 RX 330 emerged from behind a screen as employees of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. (TMMC) watched along with Canadian government officials and Toyota executives from around the world.

The first Canadian-built Lexus RX 330, the luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) now in its second generation is North America’s largest selling luxury SUV and the best-selling model in the Lexus line-up in both Canada and the US.

TMMC Lexus paint shop
TMMC Lexus paint shop
TMMC - Lexus welding shop
TMMC Lexus welding shop
Photos: Toyota. Click image to enlarge

“This is a great day for all of us here in Cambridge,” said a jubilant TMMC President Ray Tanguay. “We have been working for more than three years to realize this dream.” Toyota invested CAD$650 million in upgrades and new construction for Lexus production. Lexus has a separate manufacturing area at the plant, which includes a new state-of-the-art paint shop using waterborne cartridge paint technology, and a new state-of-the-art welding shop. “The Lexus Project has been an immense undertaking and a humbling honour,” said Tanguay.

The RX 330 is also manufactured at Toyota Motor Kyushu Inc. in Japan. Since 2000, Canadian and Japanese Lexus team members have traveled back and forth between the two plants to prepare for manufacturing at the levels of luxury and quality Lexus customers expect. “We found that a strong skillset is very important, but the key difference is the mindset,” added Tanguay. “A Lexus frame of mind seeks perfection in every process, on every manufacturing line, and in every vehicle. Manufacturing Lexus demands a deep understanding of what customers want, expect and deserve in a luxury vehicle. We call it the relentless pursuit of perfection.”

TMMC has capacity to build 60,000 of the Lexus RX 330 model each year. The plant, which also builds the Toyota Corolla and Matrix, has a combined capacity of 250,000 units.

Denny Clements, Group Vice President and General Manager of Toyota Motor Sales’ US Lexus division says the company won’t have any trouble selling all 60,000. “Last month, we sold more than 10,000 (2004 model) units in the United States�the first time we’ve sold more than 10,000 units of any model in a single month. With year-to-date sales of about 60,000 units through August, RX sales are up nearly 20 percent.”

Toyota’s Kyushu Japan plant, which has supplied the RX 330 since its introduction earlier this year, will continue to build the RX 330 for the North American market to meet demand for the luxury SUV. Retail price of the Lexus RX 330 ranges from $49,900 to $62,190.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. has been manufacturing vehicles at its Cambridge, Ontario plant since November 30, 1988. Investment has totaled CAD$3 billion since the company began. In addition to the CAD$650 million Lexus investment, 700 additional Canadians were hired to work at TMMC, where employment has now grown to total more than 3,900 people. Capacity has grown from 50,000 units annually in 1988 to 250,000 today.

Connect with Autos.ca