For the second year in a row, the Toyota Camry is the most American-made car on the road.

Toyota has been manufacturing parts and assembling vehicles in the United States since 1986, and since then its operations have grown to include 10 plants and nearly 25,000 full-time manufacturing jobs in the states.

Yet, even before Toyota Motor North America began to build vehicles domestically, it was taking advantage of American designing talent. Calty Design Research, Inc. opened in El Segundo, California in 1973 -- a tiny operation that allowed the Japanese automaker to dip its toe into American markets and test the waters.

"El Segundo wasn't a campus. It was one portion of a modest building in an industrial area," said Doris Kusumoto, Calty Financial Manager. "There were about six designers and 25 people total in support. Meanwhile, we would hear that domestic studios had 300 modelers and 100 designers. The manpower available meant Calty designers had to know more about the package and the architecture of the cars since we only had a couple of studio engineers. Early on, there was an underdog feeling at Calty which helped make working there feel like a team effort."

Calty's designs are kept carefully under wraps today by taping over the cameras on visitor's phones. Things were even more hush-hush back in the 70's, according to Kusumoto. "Some locals thought we were a small manufacturing facility, or even selling t-shirts. Early on, it was so low profile, we were not allowed business cards."

Today, Calty employs hundreds of designers, and uses high-tech computer assisted design software to aid the process -- though traditional pen, paper, and clay are still used! It's new Ann Arbor campus is responsible for the designs of many of our most popular new Toyota vehicles, including the Tundra, Tacoma, and Sienna (which are also engineered in Michigan).

Visit Kings Toyota in Cincinnati, and find out what makes American design and manufacturing so bold, powerful, and dependable.

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