By on January 21, 2013

The inevitable march to American-made “imports” continues, as one Toyota official recently declared his desire to see every single Toyota sold in America to be a made-in-USA product.

Although Toyota currently makes about 70 percent of its Stateside product domestically, Bill Fay, Vice President and General Manager of the company’s American arm, said he’d ideally like to see that number expand. Fay spoke to the Detroit Free Press regarding shifting production

“Our intention is clearly to grow that 70% over time…Short term, we are not going to build everything in North America, especially (when) you consider Lexus, which we are shifting more slowly. “Whether we ever totally get there, I don’t know…”

Next up on Toyota’s agenda is a shift in Corolla production, which would see 100 percent of the compact sedans made in Canada or the USA. Concerns over unfavorable wages aren’t the sole reason behind the move either; a rapidly aging workforce and negative population growth means that finding workers for car factories is an increasingly difficult task.

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27 Comments on “Toyota USA Looking To Go Import-Free?...”


  • avatar
    PintoFan

    Translation: Scion is dead, all future plans for sports cars are dead, Lexus’ lineup will be allowed to dwindle to a rebadged Camry and Rav-4 as well as an SUV based on the Tundra. Maybe they’ll continue to import the LS series cars, because I don’t see how they could make those in two locations profitably.

  • avatar

    Speaking from experience between Japanese and North American builds from the brand, I’d hate to see it happen. I was loyal for a few years because our first Toyota– an Echo– has faithfully carried out it’s duties with little muss. Other members of the family have had later Toyota’s (’06 Corolla and Matrix), and both seemed to have some surprising flaws.

    The Corolla isn’t bad in a sense of falling apart, but one could hear squeaks and rattles early on in its life– maybe the first 50,000 miles. It’s still holding up fine aside from the common-everywhere headlight haze that needs the occasional buff.

    On the flip side, the Matrix… where to start? My sister was trying to sell it, and had me detail and photograph it to help it pick up some interest. Some of the issues I found in it were detestable, namely a massive gap between the A-pillar and dash, and the drivers-side sun visor was falling out of the headliner. I took the screw off one of my Echo visors and tightened that up. Regardless, my visors are still holding factory tight after 25,000 miles since then.

    The most sickening thought about the visor, however, was that this Matrix hadn’t even passed the 100,000 mile threshold… and my car is at 458,000.

    Fine, the Matrix ran strong and was fun for an automatic (still plenty of pep and fun freeway ramp grip). Being the XR, it had some XRS bits underneath from the production line to help it along. But the build quality itself was lackluster.

    The Corolla doesn’t suffer the same issues, regardless of also being built in Canada, and at least it was a manual. The smaller diameter and width to the rolling stock of the Corolla did give it lesser limits, or so it felt, and the suspension didn’t have quite the firmness of the XR, so perhaps the rattles of poorly maintained San Francisco Bay Area freeway had less impact on the sedan than the hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “The most sickening thought about the visor, however, was that this Matrix hadn’t even passed the 100,000 mile threshold… and my car is at 458,000.”

      With all due respect, the most sickening thought to me is: How in the world do you put 458,000 miles on an ’06 anything besides a plane?

      You know, there are some good shows to watch on TV once in a while, as also spending time…you know…eating, having a beer, or…sleeping?

      You should have a life – I’m sure you do, but if not – go and get it!

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        You can achieve that mileage in that time frame with a 4 hour commute each way on the highway at somewhat higher than the speed limit – in an Echo. You’d never get a speeding ticket – the patrolman would be too embarrassed to speed ticket an Echo, and the judge wouldn’t believe it. I suspect the author slipped a digit when typing the 458k.

      • 0 avatar

        The guy who drove a Neon for 150k miles on 1 change of oil was some kind of service worker. He literally spent a few months on the highway.

      • 0 avatar

        The Echo is a 2000, sorry I forgot that detail. For the record, there was no Echo for the 2006 model year– that’s when Yaris stepped in to replace it.

        The car was a hand-me-down at 320,526 miles give or take five. My father worked in San Jose for 30 years, commuting 100 miles one way five days a week for 25 of them. He started with 1970′s Rabbit diesels, then to Geo Metro’s, finally stopping at the Echo. The Corolla S was the Echo replacement since the Yaris S didn’t really do it for us, and Honda would even let us try the Fit Sport or Civic.

        The Corolla commute was short lived as my folks moved to Chicago for his job. Now they live in Sacramento, and I visit every few weeks (100 miles one way), and see my girlfriend up there, too. Yup, I’ve got enough of a life even with a turd Echo to have one of those for a little over two years.

        Just driving from one end of Sacramento to the other is a 30 mile stretch, so if one is running around a lot in town, it adds up quickly.

        If URL’s weren’t so easily spam, I’d show you my car. She’s actually surprised a lot of enthusiasts. That has surprised me right back– I still don’t completely understand.

        If you look up “Pheobe the Echo” or “Hooniverse Echo” you’ll find it. Two door, green, foglights, beauty rings, and hand painted white letter tires will be a few of the tell-tales of it. She’s not much, but she’s mine.

        Also, since when is watching TV considered having a life? Especially with what’s on these days… blech.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Another translation: We can no longer profitably import our products from Japan. So we will no longer be selling Japanese cars, we will be selling North American designed and assembled Japanese branded cars which are of inferior quality to our products of even twelve years ago. But because you’re PWNED by our mystique, you’ll just take it and still pay a premium. Thanks for selling out your own industry to us America.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      I once had the same worry. But, I have owned many US built Toyota and Honda products. No problem.

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        Other then my buddy’s 2012 Marysville Accord that had a cracked block at Mile 12 (not a typo, Mile TWELVE). Granted Honda owned up to it, gave him a loaner and a new engine. But a car rolling off the factory should NOT have the engine block crack. That is either a incredibly poor QA off the line or a serious design flaw. Neithe ris acceptable.

        No problems on my Canadian/Mexican/German ’11 300C. Minor problems on a fmaily members ’06 Hecho in Mexico Ford Fusion (stoopid window motors keep breaking), had an unbreakable NewJersey built ’03 Ranger, and had an Australian built ’02 Mitsu Diamante that never stopped. Until it 120,000 miles and then everything broke at once, almost as if by design.

        I guess my point is mdoern cars really are model/factory specific in terms of reliability. There is no blanket statement on a brands quality, although some brands (pre-FordTouch Fords, smaller Hondas, domestic trucks) are less likely to cause headache.

      • 0 avatar

        “I once had the same worry. But, I have owned many US built Toyota and Honda products. No problem.”

        We have an ’09 Sonata that’s holding up very well (built in Alabama). Our ’07 Sedona… not as well (Korea, and still in an older Kia/Hyundai facility) We’ve never had anything built in Mexico, so I can’t speak for those personally, but Canada… no.

        I do wonder what the Toyota Yaris will do with the French/Mexican built cars to come, as those have been announced for future build sites. Yaris is also reported to be a joint job between it and the Mazda2 for the next gens of each respective car (again in Mexico). Who knows, maybe the combination of Mazda performance with the Toyota reputation (though we’ll see how that’s weighed in the future) could yield interesting small-car results. Not to mention the SkyActiv tech will be great by then.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    @Harvey,

    I hate to say it but I think that your Toyotas have spoiled you. It’s gotten to where you have a loose sun visor at 100k miles and deem it a problem.

    Try owning and out of warranty Volkswagen for a while and then get back to us about how that goes for you…

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve honestly never thought of it that way.

      Though don’t take it that way. We never liked Toyota until we tried the Echo. I still find Echoes boring because of the drivers themselves view them as such. I’m no fanboy of the brand. They’ve had plenty of issues even before the 2000′s and subsequent recalls. Toyota 3.0L V6′s are known for sludge, for example. 1ZZ-FE 1.8L engines before 1999 (round about) would fail around 200k, as do the 1ZZ-FED’s (Celica GT and MR2 Spyder). There’s plenty to fault them on. Merely looking at mine held up even with the crap I’ve personally done, that Matrix has no excuse.

      Brand loyalty is something I don’t abide by as an enthusiast. I hate Daewoo’s and the Aveo (a Daewoo), but I actually have reasons. Every company has fragrant feces, just some stronger than others. I tend to love cult cars and the imperfect just as much as the wonderful. It’ll take some time to understand my way of thinking, though. It usually does.

      Besides, I’ve known plenty of VW fans that would argue to the contrary for good reason. Saturn had some SL1′s that went for ever, while others always had the consistent issues with thrown rods (usually cylinder three), REALLY nasty automatic tranny performance (serves them right for not going manual), bad power windows (see “manual”) to name the things I remember. I’ve heard the stories of VW electronics, and it’s no surprise. That’s just German cars– they are well engineered and can go forever, but others are absolute dogs.

    • 0 avatar
      jco

      “Try owning and out of warranty Volkswagen for a while and then get back to us about how that goes for you…”

      not even if I had a doctorate in Electrical Engineering AND spoke German. THE HORRORS.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Toyota may review this policy soon. In the last month or so, the Yen has begun to depreciate significantly. Building vehicles in Japan may become more cost effective. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are loosing their panties over this.

    Japan has had enough of the near communists populating our FED and Treasury department who have printed and printed while Japan stayed quiet. And, with all this printing, the Yen strengthened ( near doubled ) while the Japanese economy suffered. And, with this government support of the auto industry, in the form of money printing by the FED, which costs all of us in our purchasing power, the auto industry is crying. This money printing forced up the price of Toyota and Honda vehicles, and allowed the UAW vehicles to sport high prices. But, the Obama administration are hoping the public is too dumb to understand this.

    This crying shows the joke our auto industry. In the face of a 50% – 75% strengthening of the Yen, Detroit is unable to compete … the only vehicles Detroit can afford to sell are overloaded and overpriced vehicles.

    Japan has had enough of the currency fixing by the Fed. Japan needs to print … this would bring down the costs of Toyota and Honda vehicles to the American public. It is time the American public are able to purchase cheaper vehicles than the UAW offerings loaded with reliability problems.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      Here is a link showing Detroit executives crying after a small depreciation of the Yen which follows a massive strengthening that was caused by the Fed and US Treasury. This shows how UnWorldClass the Detroit auto industry is. The Detroit auto industry can only barely compete when the US government rigs the playing field with currency manipulation.

      reuters.com/article/2013/01/17/
      us-usa-japan-autos-idUSBRE90G0RR20130117

      The Obama administration will be doubling up recall efforts on Toyota and Honda in 3 … 2 … 1 …

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “The Detroit auto industry can only barely compete when the US government rigs the playing field with currency manipulation.”

        Agreed the game is rigged, but its a lot more complicated then trying to help Detroit make a buck. The powers that be are playing race to the bottom, and leaving a trail of hurt economies in their wake.

        “The Obama administration will be doubling up recall efforts on Toyota”

        Doubtful, the Feds are getting ready to divest as we speak.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      “Japan has had enough of the currency fixing by the Fed.”

      Hilarious. The United States debt-to-GDP ratio is about 73%. In Japan, it’s 208%. Keep in mind that much of the debt incurred for reconstruction after the tsunami has yet to hit the books. This is the result of 30 years of trying to game the playing field for manufacturing, when the Japanese economy should have been diversifying and concentrating on high-value products instead of churning out $13k rental special Corollas for export.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

      Now the Japanese government is engaging in even more currency manipulation to keep business interests satisfied:
      http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-01-21/japans-currency-dance-weaken-the-yen-not-too-weak

      Look, I know you guys really hate Obama, unions, single-income families, personal home ownership, and American-owned industry. That doesn’t mean you get to sweep 30 years of economic history under the rug.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Good points, although for the record I don’t hate all of the things you named.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        I am against Obama’s socialist policies, but I don’t hate him. And I am against unions because of the economic destruction they inflicted on Detroit.

        However, I am for single-income families. I frequently remind my wife her child rearing skills are worth far more than any career. And, I am for home ownership. I am for American-owned industry, but only industry not propped up with government programs.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        The US Treasury debt is now larger than the GDP. Add in Agency debt, Mortgage debt backed by GSE, and unfunded Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security obligations, and you are looking at a number in the many hundreds of percent.

        The world has never seen the magnitude of money printing being conducted by the ECB and FED. On Wall Street, we don’t know when money printing will end, but we feel it is likely to end in a substantial war.

  • avatar

    I don’t think it matter where a Vehicle is built, each Car Maker wants to make the most profit and pay as little as possible to each worker, same with any Vehicle or Appliance?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Smartest thing I have heard all day.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “…each Car Maker wants to make the most profit and pay as little as possible…”

      Years ago in 1998, I and several of our staff sat in on a business meeting with a major consumer products manufacturer here in the Cincinnati area (hint, hint!)

      One young “punk” – just out of college and a recent hire actually stated during our meeting that HE felt that his company “SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR OUR PACKAGING”! That’s a direct quote.

      Needless to say, all fourteen of us in the room fell silent with mouths agape! One person immediately silenced the kid and proceeded to enact damage-control!

      A co-worker who now works with me who was there as part of the meeting…well, we still tell that story and have a good laugh!

      Your statement is so true!

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      In theory, yes.

      But, it is not quite that simple. Assembly labor is less than 10% of the cost of a car. And, cheap labor areas bring other costs.

      You have to have established suppliers etc nearby. You have to consider the extra cost to ship your car to the market that you are selling it in.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Acura decided much of the same in the past couple of years, soon 85% of all Acuras will be built in NA.

  • avatar
    silverkris

    I really don’t see this as a big deal. However, I don’t think the low volume, specialty cars will be manufactured in NA for reasons of economies of scale. That has been a trend that has been going for the last 20-30 years for Toyota, Honda, and other “import” manufacturers.

    Toyota (and Honda as well) now has the critical mass in terms of market share, and established manufacturing infrastructure (plants and supply chain) to further increase their local manufacturing %. Short-term fluctuations in the yen valuation are unlikely to change that.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Gosh! If only the “locals” had that same commitment… In any market, anywhere in the world, local manufacturing pays of. It’s about creating jobs, parts availability, perception of commitment and a sense of local pride. I would use Fords F150 as an example of locally made sales success. Sales success even pays for expensive labor.
    So… Go on Toyota, prove ‘em wrong!


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