Are Toyota Engines Made in Japan? (Read This First!)

Toyota engines are much lauded and celebrated around the world for their reliability, power, and efficiency.

At any size, they often outperform those from other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

With basic maintenance according to the schedule, Toyota engines can easily last 200,000 miles or much more.

This article explains “Are Toyota Engines Made in Japan?”…

Are Toyota Engines Made In Japan?

While many Toyota engines are made in Japan, not all of them are. It was commonly believed that while Toyota cars are assembled all over the world, the engines and other constituent parts are only made in Japan. This is not the case.

Besides 4 plants in Japan that produce engines (Kamigo, Shimoyama, Tahara and Kanda), Toyota manufacturers engines in the USA, Poland, Thailand, and the UK.

Are The Engines For The U.S. Market Made In Japan?

The huge majority of engines for Toyota vehicles in the US are manufactured within the US as well.

Toyota builds around 2 million engines per year in the US, which accounts for about 80 percent of Toyota vehicles sold in the US in recent years going back to about 2016.

Therefore, only about 20 percent of US Toyota vehicles have engines made outside of the US in Japan.

Are They Being Assembled In The U.S.?

Those units that are manufactured in the US are produced in the US, and not merely assembled there.

There are 3 production facilities in the US that manufacture Toyota engines, namely the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plants in Kentucky (Georgetown, KY), West Virginia (Buffalo, WV), and Alabama (Huntsville, AL).

What Is A VIN And What Does It Tell You?

VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number, and far from being just an arbitrary product number randomly allocated to each vehicle that rolls off the production line, the VIN is a treasure trove of information about the vehicle itself.

VINs are composed of 17 characters made up of letters and numbers. It is unique to every single automobile and is not merely indicative of a product type or range.

That means every single car’s VIN is different. That being said, many VINs share some elements in common since they also share key information like country of origin.

So, what can the VIN tell you about a vehicle? The answer is many things.

The first character indicates where the vehicle was built. If it starts with a 1 or a 4, for instance, then it was manufactured in the USA.

If it’s 2, it’s made in Canada; if it’s 3, it’s made in Mexico. For Japan, it’s a J.

The second and third characters of the VIN tell you the manufacturer code. In the United States, a Toyota car would have 4T, a Tesla would have 5YJ, and a Mercedes-Benz 4J.

Brand codes in each country vary.

The 4th to 8th digits represent what they call a “portrait” of the vehicle, including its brand, engine size and type, and even fuel type.

The 9th character acts as a security code that confirms the VIN as being authorized by the manufacturer.

The 10th character indicates the mode year. The code for the 2021 model year is “M.”

The code is cycled through A-Y and then 1-9 before starting over.

Cars from 1980 to 2000 were A-Y, and then 2001 to 2009 were 1-9. Cars from 2010 to 2020 were A-L, and now we’re at M.

A total of 5 letters are never included, namely ‘I’, ‘O’, ‘Q’, ‘U’ and ‘Z’ for fear of being confused with other numbers, especially I (1), O (0) and Q (9).

These three are not used in any part of the VIN.

U could be mixed up with O, and Z with 2, and so are not used for model year indicators, but may appear in other parts of the VIN.

The 11th character of the VIN indicates the plant which assembled the vehicle, and then the last 6 characters are the serial number for that vehicle.

You can typically find the VIN by looking at the dashboard on the driver’s side from outside the vehicle and you can see it there where the dashboard meets the windshield.

You can also find it in the doorpost, as well as on your insurance card and on your registration documents and vehicle title.

Does The VIN Also Refer To The Engine?

Yes, part of the VIN does refer to the engine. The 4-8th characters describe the engine type, among other things, as part of the “portrait” of the vehicle.

Usually, it’s the 8th digit that describes the engine type.

For instance, on a 2007 Chevy Corvette, the letter U is used to describe a 6.0L V8 engine, whereas the letter E is used for the 7.0L V8 engine.

Does Any Other Part Come From Japan?

Toyota ships the majority of its parts to its overseas plants from Japan, but not all of those parts are originally produced in Japan.

Toyota relies on a network of more than 200 suppliers for parts, including some in Korea, the US, and other countries.

Top parts suppliers are still Japanese companies, however, such as Denso which used to be an integrated part of Toyota but is now independent, and Aisin.

Outside suppliers include Samsung, Cypress Semiconductor, and others.

Are The Engines For The Canadian Market Made In Japan?

Toyotas for the Canadian market have been made in Canada since 1986, including the RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid, Lexus RX 350, and Lexus RX 450h.

Some engines for these models come from US-based plants, but others come from Japanese plants.

Canada relies more on imported engines from Japan than does the US market, and no Toyota engines are manufactured within the main Toyota Motor Manufacturing facilities in either Cambridge or Woodstock, Ontario.

Are The Engines For The Australian Market Made In Japan?

Australia is no longer host to any manufacturing facilities from Toyota.

There was once a plant in Altona, Victoria that operated from 1963 to 2017, but no longer. It produced the Aurion, the Avalon, and the Camry.

No Australia-based facility has ever produced engines, however, and so Australian engines are mostly made in Japan, with some also made and exported from the Thailand facility in Chonburi.

The vast majority of engines for Australian Toyotas are made in Japan, however, as are the vehicles.

Since the Japanese and Australian road systems are all right-hand drive cars operating on the left side of the road, it’s easy to produce them in Japan and ship them directly to Australia.

Are The Engines For The U.K. & European Market Made In Japan?

Engines for the UK and European markets are made in the UK, Poland, and Japan. The UK plant is located in Wales and the Poland plant is in Walbrzych.

The entire market still relies on additional input from Japan, however.

A total of 7 out of 10 Toyota cars sold in Europe are made entirely there, so Japan only inputs about 30 percent of the models for sale.

Most engines are produced in either the UK or Poland, with only 20 percent or less coming from Japan to make up the shortfall.

Sometimes the Japanese additional engines are needed because UK, and Poland, produced engines are exported to other regions around the world.

Where Else Are The Toyota Engines Made In Japan Being Exported To?

Toyota engines made in Japan are being exported all over the world, and especially to regions where engine production is low domestically.

For example, in South America, the only plant also producing engines is in Brazil, and so Japanese-made engines are needed to support production operations there in Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina, as well as in Central America, specifically Mexico.

Toyotas manufactured at the Durban plant in South Africa also need engines imported from Japan because that plant doesn’t produce engines.

They assemble the Corolla, Fortuner, Quantum, Hilux, and Hino trucks.

What Countries Are Toyota Vehicles Made In Japan Being Exported To?

Japan exports vehicles made in Japan all over the world, but especially to those countries that share its right-hand-drive steering wheel position – the UK, India, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Hong Kong, etc.

That doesn’t mean that Toyota doesn’t also produce and export left-hand-drive cars.

The best-selling Toyota Prius, for example, is made in Japan and exported all over the world, especially to the US market where it is extremely popular.

Toyota’s guiding policy is to manufacture within the geographical area in which they are selling to the greatest extent that cost, infrastructure, and security allow.

They still export to some 140 countries worldwide, however.