The fifth-gen Chevy Nova was built at California’s NUMMI plant for the 1985 through 1988 model years, prior to becoming the Geo and then the Chevrolet Prizm. The Nova was really a rebadged AE82 Corolla, and so most of them managed to survive into the turn of the 21st century. By now, however, a NUMMI Nova is a rare sight; we saw a trustifarian ’87 hatchback in California last winter, and now this well-preserved sedan has appeared in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)
Rear-wheel-drive AE86 Corolla GT-Ss are worth bucks these days, and you won’t see them in low-priced self-serve wrecking yards. The AE82 front-wheel-drive Corolla GT-S hasn’t held its value so well, and so examples do show up on The Crusher’s doorstep. We saw this white ’87 in California last year, and now I’ve found this silver ’87 in Colorado. (Read More…)
We’ve seen a few NUMMI-built Junkyard Finds in recent weeks, including this ’87 Nova and this ’87 Corolla FX16 GT-S. However, the car that really comes to mind when you think of NUMMI is the Geo Prizm. Here’s an example of GM’s rebadged Corolla that I found at a self-service junkyard about 20 miles from the car’s birthplace. It’s the circle of automotive life! (Read More…)
Just a few years after Toyota confused American car shoppers by badging the early Tercel as the “Corolla Tercel,” they offered two very different vehicles as the 1987 “Corolla GT-S.” One was the AE86 coupe, based on the older rear-drive Corolla platform and much beloved by present-day drifters, and the other was the front-drive FX16 hatchback, built in California and equipped with the same 16-valve 4AGE engine as the AE86. The FX16 was sort of goofy-looking, with sharp angles and cheezy-looking plastic panels, but it was a screamin’ fast competitor to the VW GTI and held together much, much longer than its Wolfsburg rival. (Read More…)
When the GM Fremont Assembly plant took on Toyota managers and became NUMMI in 1984, the same supposedly inept lineworkers who hammered together sub-par Buick Apollos suddenly started building Corollas that were at least as well-made as the ones made by their Japanese counterparts (you are free to draw your own conclusions about GM management in the 1980s). The initial round of GM-badged Corollas were given the Chevrolet Nova name, prior to becoming the Geo Prizm; you still see Prizms around, but the 80s Nova has become a rare sight on the streets and in the junkyards. Here’s a Nova I spotted in an Oakland, California, self-serve yard earlier in the month. (Read More…)
[Editor's note: videos are from Youtube, and were not taken by the author]
“THE BETAS ARE COMING!” The mid-August e-mail from Tesla Motors breathlessly touted “the most exciting automotive event of the year:” an exclusive owners-only unveiling of the Model S. All 6,000 of us who’d put down $5K deposits on the electric sedan would be invited out to Tesla’s sprawling new plant in Fremont, Calif. to see, touch, and ride in the Beta version of the car, described as “over 90 percent production intent.”
A few weeks later came the e-mail invitation itself. I RSVPed the same day. Tesla had expected attendance in the hundreds, and had made initial plans for 1,000 just to be safe. But when 300 RSVPs came back in the first 23 minutes, they realized they had a tsunami of customer enthusiasm on their hands. In the end, about 2,000 owners showed up, including one guy from Kazakhstan.
Driving my rented Prius up I-880 toward Fremont on the big day, I passed a factory with huge letters on the side: SOLYNDRA. Not a good omen. The start-up Silicon Valley manufacturer of high-tech cutting-edge solar panels, the recipient of half a billion dollars in government loans, had lost hundreds of millions of dollars and just gone bankrupt amid cries of political favoritism and financial fraud.
A mile or so up the road, another sprawling factory festooned with giant letters: TESLA. A start-up Silicon Valley manufacturer of high-tech cutting edge automobiles, recipient of half a billion dollars in government loans, currently reporting annual losses of hundreds of millions of dollars….oh, never mind.
Toyota closed the last chapters of the book on NUMMI, wrote a check for $6 million, and put the book to where it will collect the dust of history. According to Reuters, Toyota reached a $6 million settlement with former NUMMI workers.
The suit was brought by workers on medical leave when NUMMI was shut down in March 2010. It’s not that they had gone empty-handed. After GM had pulled out of NUMMI in June 2009 and left Toyota holding the bag, Toyota announced plans to pull out by March 2010. Toyota had negotiated a $281 million settlement-agreement with the UAW-represented workers, while GM was whistling Dixie.
At the time it was clear that some union brothers were more equal than others. (Read More…)
Last year, Toyota invested $50 million into Tesla. Tesla turned around and spent $42 million of the new money and bought the land and buildings of site 2 of NUMMI in Freemont, CA. As it turns out, the deal did not include the fixtures. Nothing another $17 million could not fix. (Read More…)
Both Toyota and the remains of its joint venture known as NUMMI have sued the remains of “Old GM” for breach of contract according to two separate reports in the Wall Street Journal [sub]. NUMMI is seeking $365m, claiming GM caused the collapse of the joint venture by unilaterally pulling out as it collapsed into bankruptcy, sticking Toyota and NUMMI with the bill.
Those decisions breached … commitments to Nummi and sounded its death knell,” said the lawsuit, filed last week. And unlike Toyota, GM’s bankruptcy estate “has refused to contribute to Nummi’s deficit during the wind down”
Toyota, meanwhile, is suing for some $73m in development costs for the Pontiac Vibe, a vehicle that GM was supposed to sell for another two years.
I’ve declared many times on TTAC that I’m a bit of what you folks across the pond would call a liberal. I believe people should have a baseline in terms of living standards, but people should still work for the better things in life. The state should be there to help people, not sustain them. My point is that when an entity gets too much power (or THINKS it has) then the balance of power is shifted and seldom ever for the better. Everything is good is moderation. I feel the same way about Unions. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not anti-union. Unions have done a lot of good for the common working person. They fought for better working environments, better pay, better job security, etc. It is impossible to deny the good they’ve done. But like Harvey Dent said in “The Dark Knight”, “You can either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain”. And unfortunately, this article doesn’t exactly show unions in a good light.
A lot of people have been shaking their heads at the Toyota/Tesla deal. Was it just an elegant way to unload the NUMMI plant? As in “here are $50m, please buy my plant with it?” Or is it part of a grand strategy, the beginning of Toyota’s foray into an all-electric future? As usual, the truth is stranger than business plans. (Read More…)
Akio Toyoda has often warned his company of the risks of “big company syndrome,” doubtless with the GM’s spectacular decades-long fall from dominance in mind. Today, he framed Toyota’s announcement of a partnership with EV startup Tesla as way to reconnect with a lost underdog mentality, saying
By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that venture business spirit
Of course, he also said that only a recent return to profitability allowed Toyota to even consider this deal in the first place. And what of the deal? Toyota will buy $50m worth of Tesla shares “in a private placement to close immediately subsequent to the closing of Tesla’s currently planned initial public offering,” as a Tesla presser puts it. In exchange, Tesla is buying “site two” of the NUMMI plant for what Tesla CEO Elon Musk terms “a great price.” NUMMI will be the production site for Tesla’s Model S, a $30k Tesla, and a jointly-developed sub-$30k vehicle. The two firms also intend to cooperate on the development of EV components as well as production system and engineering support
The literal answer is that it’s not the very last vehicle built at NUMMI. A red Corolla had that honor, but this is the very last Tacoma to be built by the UAW. And with that, the grand experiment between GM and Toyota is over. Could anyone have guessed way back in 1984 that the joint venture would eventually fall victim to a GM bankruptcy and Toyota overreach? Perhaps a few, but then who can say what firm, or even what industry, will be busying NUMMI’s production floors 26 years from now? The times, they are a-changing.
Not only does Public Radio’s This American Life take on one of the most fascinating stories in the auto industry this week, they also give a big shout-out to TTAC’s readers at the end. That means you! Don’t miss this story, if only to have your mind blown by just how big of a party the Fremont, CA, plant was back in the “good old days.”