Will they or won’t they? First, the factory. GM’s announced they’re bailing on NUMMI. Bloomberg says Toyota may be considering the same thing. Once GM turns its door keys over to Toyota, the Fremont, California, plant becomes Toyota’s highest-cost factory and the only one manned by UAW workers. With other US plants’ excess capacity (including a mothballed Mississippi manufacturing facility) and lower operating costs, ToMoCo may well pull the plug on NUMMI. Problem: PR. Shutting down a plant in economically-challenged California (Toyota’s biggest market) and putting another 5K people out of work wouldn’t endear the Japanese automaker to the public or their politicians. (GM, of course, would get none of the blame.) Now about that GM – Toyota Synergy Drive deal . . .
Bloomberg’s “two people familiar with the plan” said that before GM decided to cut their losses and run, Toyota had considered building a version of the Prius hybrid for GM at NUMMI. While GM’s exit from the joint venture won’t necessarily preclude them doing this, it will probably cool the relationship between the two automakers.
Still, life during wartime, eh? You can bet NUMMI will be high on the agenda during this summer’s scheduled pow-wow between GM CEO Fritz Henderson and Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda. Given GM’s many on-again, off-again product plans, everything’s on the table. Still.