Toyota Delays Mississippi Plant
Automotive News [sub] reports that Toyota is delaying opening its $1.3b Tupelo, Mississippi production plant from early 2010 to… sometime later that year. Toyota cites weakness in American sales and a tight credit market for the delay– which it downplays as a relatively minor adjustment. "We made adjustments within a certain range of time," Toyota Executive VP Mitsuo Kinoshita soothed. "The change wasn't that critical." The plant will employ some 2k Mississippians building about 150k Highlander crossover utilities. Toyota has seen its sales drop for seven of the last nine months, and recently announced an estimated 28 percent drop in profits. Toyota's San Antonio Tundra plant has already seen its production trimmed, as the global leader in auto sales volume struggles with North American overcapacity. With small, efficient Toyotas continuing to sell well, from the Prius to the Yaris and even the Camry, could Toyota simply switch production over from Highlander's to something that will, y'know, sell?
Highlander has it's roots in the Camry platform, so one would think that it shouldn't be too hard for Toyota to reconfigure the new plant for Camry production. Or, maybe Toyota will kill the 4Runner so as not to have it and the Highland competing in a shrinking market. I doubt that the UAW will be able to make hay out of this decision.
Toyota ought to come up with a plan B - there aren't enough ships to go around (autoobserver.com) to bring more cars over here.
I agree with golden2husky. Toyota now has people in their plants that have been "temps" for 2 to 3 yrs. These are the people they are now cutting in their SUV and truck plants. But they can still say they aren't laying off employees, I mean associates.