Toyota: Lights Off at NUMMI? GM Synergy Drive?

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

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.

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4 of 22 comments
  • TC88 TC88 on Jul 04, 2009

    I am currently a supervisor at NUMMI... I have been there for 20 years and know the people that work there and the family members. If the plant shuts down 5000 jobs will be lost at the plant along with another 45000 jobs supporting daily operation. Some of you people that think its such a great idea to just have Toyota bail out and leave us high and dry should try and be a little more sensative. Some of the people that work at NUMMI already went through a shutdown back in 1982 and witnessed friends taking thier lives because of it... I myself would love to see Toyota keep it going and build a Hybrid to help profitability.... I pray all the time that no one in any part of our country is out of work....

  • Molly29 Molly29 on Jul 04, 2009

    TC88, I agree with you 100%. Why in the world would any body wish for someone to lose there job. My husband also works for Nummi 2nd shift and the moral has been terrible. How would you like to go to work each day waiting and wondering what the announcement is going to be on the future of Nummi. Not only do you have the 1 provider of the family that works there but you have both the husband and wife. And to the persons who started the rumors about toyota getting the prius shame on you. When that article came out their moral was over the top then we had to watch as it came down to an all time low. So please think about how many lives this is going to affect before you say close the doors or turn out the lights on nummi....

  • Autonewsreader Autonewsreader on Jul 05, 2009

    Just picked up this story from Bloomberg: "Toyota Spending $500 Million on Indiana Plant Revamp" What I found interesting in the article is this comment from Mike Goss, a spokesman for Toyota’s North American manufacturing unit in Erlanger, Kentucky: "This is really our only investment this year, since Mississippi is idled," Goss said. So, if this the ONLY investment Toyota is going to make in the near term, does that say anything about NUMMI's chances for survival? Could the handwriting be on the wall now... To TC88 and molly29: With all due respect, this is an open forum for discussion and you just have to expect that comments will come from both ends of the spectrum. Our prayers to the both of you, your families, and your co-workers at NUMMI.

  • Raast Raast on Jul 28, 2009

    I have a Toyota truck that was produced at the NUMMI plant, and you know what? It's about the best made (that's parts AND assembly folks) vehicle I've had yet. That should tell somebody something, unless the almighty bottom line is the sole criteria for every decision. As I often remind people about the last GM I (will ever) own, "if these idiots (not Oshawa assembly now, their assembly quality is just fine) would have quit the nickel and diming on the parts quality, the vehicle might have actually been durable and I would have PAID that extra $50 they 'saved' to get that durability." Failed GM parts? Blockheater (how DO you do that?) HVAC control module Hub (abs) - multiple Multifunction switch Catalyst Rocker arm mounting bolts (ripped out of head) and more.