By on June 29, 2009

Bloomberg is reporting that GM CEO Fritz Henderson will meet with Toyota President Akio Toyoda this August, and that a GM rebadge of the Prius could be on the agenda. “Two people familiar with the plan” confirm the Prius angle, and with the death of the Pontiac Vibe, GM certainly has to figure out what it will do with its NUMMI capacity which it shares with Toyota. “Having a stronger line-up is an urgent matter for GM,” says Yoshihiro Okumura of Chiba-gin Asset Management Co. “Demand will continue to shift to small cars.” But neither automaker will even confirm that plans for an executive meeting of the minds is on the table. Moreover, as Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics points out, “Toyota is not normally in the practice of giving away the crown jewels.” On the other hand, GM has recently canceled its only hybrid car, the Malibu Hybrid, and the sale of Saturn to Penske will further cut into its hybrid offerings.

UPDATE: Our Frank Williams points out a GM press release that just hit the wires which says “As part of its long-term viability plan, General Motors has decided that its ownership stake in the New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated (NUMMI) joint venture with Toyota will not be a part of the ‘New GM.’” The plot thickens.

Speaking of Saturn and Penske, early rumors have the new Saturn selling Renault products (built by its Korean partner Samsung). Trading Markets has a press release denying a tie-up between Renault and China’s Great Wall Auto, that (in theory) would have created a joint venture in Venezuela. If the deal goes through, it will be with Great Wall’s Venezuelan dealer, so it doesn’t sound like this would have created a product opportunity for the Penske World Auto Market. Still, doesn’t a Venezuelan-built Dacia Logan (Rebadged as a Penske-Chavez?) sound like fun?

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18 Comments on “GM Prius Rumors Won’t Die. Or Not?...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    Still, doesn’t a Venezuelan-built Dacia Logan (Rebadged as a Penske-Chavez?) sound like fun?

    Only available in Red and it only runs on Citgo gas.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Wow, Toyota gets GM’s 50% of NUMMI for free! I don’t think Toyota will be at all concerned about losing its NUMMI “partner”. Whether or not the plant survives is an interesting question. GM’s sales of NUMMI output have never been strong. The Tacoma and Corolla are NUMMI’s bread and butter.

    Toyota would be idiots to give GM a version of the Prius. What has GM got to offer Toyota? Back when NUMMI was created, GM was offering Toyota an education on how to build cars in North America and provided the mothballed factory in which to do it. Toyota provided lean manufacturing know-how and the products. A good joint venture can only happen when both parties have something of real value to offer. What has GM got today that Toyota doesn’t have?

  • avatar

    Maybe GM is talking with Toyota about a rebadged Yaris for Cadillac to go head to head with the Aston Martin Cygnet.

    Seriously, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re talking with Toyota about producing the successor to the Canyorado pickups, as they don’t seem to have anything in the works for their next small truck and they want to close the plant in Shreveport LA where they build them. Heaven knows, Toyota certainly has the excess capacity in the plants where they currently build trucks!

  • avatar

    John Horner:
    What has GM got to offer Toyota?

    Tons of taxpayer money and an “in” with the federal government.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    No way they’ll call it the Penske-Chavez.
    I’m sure they’ll tap into decades of powerful brand equity by calling this new creation the Hugo.

  • avatar

    GM was suppose to learn how to do things like Toyota with NUMMI. GM has failed miserably. Maybe NUMMI will make Prius(s) but they will be for Toyota.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Actually, Toyota doesn’t get Nummi for free. Rather, GM’s 50% stake will go up for sale, and Toyota will have to pay $1 more than Penski or someone else would pay for it.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    The one GM plant that produces a decent smallish car is declared a “bad asset.” How ironic is that?

    Is the Focus wagon really kaput? If so, Toyota should offer the Vibe to Ford.

  • avatar

    The one GM plant that produces a decent smallish car is declared a “bad asset.” How ironic is that?

    That’s exactly what I thought. This all just gets curiouser and curiouser.

    John

  • avatar
    grog

    The one GM plant that produces a decent smallish car is declared a “bad asset.” How ironic is that?

    and

    Having a stronger line-up is an urgent matter for GM,” says Yoshihiro Okumura of Chiba-gin Asset Management Co. “Demand will continue to shift to small cars.”

    If the latter is the case, then why GM wants to bail on the Vibe makes no sense. Okay, the 2009 iteration grew a bit too much and lost something appealing. I mean I see tons of pre-09 Vibes tooling around here in Flyover Country and very few 09s. Nonetheless, it’s one of GMs best “small” cars.

    Perhaps they’ve come to the conclusion that simply rebadging isn’t all that somebody thought it was cracked up to be.

  • avatar
    JMII

    No way Toyota gives/sells/loans ANY of the Prius to GM. The Prius is Toyota’s claim to fame these days and they plan on putting its technology in every vehicle they sell. Why on earth would they let GM have any piece of that pie? Even if GM paid double Toyota would be foolish to let them have it given how important the Prius is now and will be as oil prices continue to climb in the future.

    If GM rebadges Taco’s then we know GM is toast. If there is one thing GM can do it is trucks. Granted their small trucks are a joke these days, but there were times when the S10 was considered a decent little hauler.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    John Horner:
    What has GM got to offer Toyota?

    Frank Williams responds:
    Tons of taxpayer money and an “in” with the federal government.

    Queue the scary music! I don’t think Toyoda or Toyota would want to sign a contract with the US Federal Government. This is one devil you don’t want to make a deal with. I know I wouldn’t!

    P.S. I agree, there’s no way GM gets anything that looks like a Prius, walks like a Prius or quacks like a Prius. No way, no how.

  • avatar
    Colinpolyps

    GM walks from the NUMMI plant and Toyota comes out a winner.

    The plant being presently equipped to produce the Matrix could easily be converted to add additional Corrola production. Even a Prius line would work there too as they seem to sell out of their North America allottment even in these slower times.

    What would Toyota have to gain by rebadging anything for GM? It’s only a matter of time anyway for this company. There seems to be nothing in the GM lineup that would be of interest to Toyota except perhaps the Corvette.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Sorry, I can’t see a GM-badged Prius. That’s way too low a blow, even for those idiots in the GM corporate office. While Toyota would have enough style to downplay where the car is coming from, the press would be on it like vultures on a roadkill rabbit.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Is that what it’s finally come to–billions of taxpayer $ for…a rebadged Prius and a Japanese pickup truck?

    Oh well, how bad could a GM Prius be? Put a gaudy wing on the back, bolt on a hood scoop, and call it an SS…

  • avatar
    ivyinvestor

    A Toyota ‘Vette, eh, Colinpolyps? That’s an interesting mental image…

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    This isn’t that odd. How many years was a NUMMI-built Chevy Nova, which was really a Corolla, sold at Chevy stores? And that was when Corollas were a hot item.

    Toyota is looking at their situation and recognizes they can lower costs even further on their hybrid technology by selling more of them. And since GM’s got a gun to their heads to sell more of products that they don’t have, then it makes sense for everyone.

    I don’t see anything strange about it at all. … except that GM’s got nothing more than the Cruze to sell, someday.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    A Chevy Prius is within the realm of possibility.

    Toyota already licenses their hybrid tech to Nissan with the Altima hybrid.

    Anyone who remotely follows cars knows that a Nova, Prizm and Vibe are just reskinned ‘yotas.


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