Toyota Starts Second Shift For The Corolla. What For?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

A few days ago, 24/7 Wall Street published yet another list of the best selling cars of all times, kicking the perennial Ford F-Series to second place. We usually stay away from these lists, they just produce flame wars, especially when the methodology remains as dubious as in “we looked at best-selling car data from a number of sources.”

However, powered by the Huffington Post et al, the list went viral. And there you have it: “Toyota Corolla becomes world’s most popular car with one sold every 40 seconds.”

Toyota took that to heart today and added a second shift to its Blue Springs, Mississippi plant. It makes the Corolla in America. And yes, in the press release, Toyota confirms that the Corolla is “the world’s best-selling car of all time.”

The Blue Springs plant has an annual capacity to produce 150,000 Corollas. According to our monthly sales snapshot, the Corolla disappointed in January, whereas the new Camry is selling well. In 2011, Corolla U.S. sales had been down 9.7 percent. (With the Ford F series solidly in number 1.) So why a second shift?

(Allegedly) Best Selling Cars Of All Times

RankMake/ModelTimeMillions1Toyota Corolla1966 – present37.52Ford F-Series1948 – present35.03Volkswagen Golf1974 – present27.54Volkswagen Beetle1933 – 200323.55Ford Escort1968 – 200020.06Honda Civic1972 – present18.57Honda Accord1976 – present17.58Ford Model T1908 – 192716.59Volkswagen Passat1973 – present15.510Chevy Impala1958 – present14.0

If you consider the fact that 240,000 Corolla/Matrix were sold stateside in 2011, and if you recall that there had been a rumor that Toyota could stop all Corolla exports from Japan due to the Godzilla yen, you may wonder whether that has something to do with it. Also, the current E140 generation of the Corolla is getting mighty long in the tooth – time for a new one? The always well-informed Kaizen Factor says:

“Nah. The North American Corolla appears one year later than its Japanese Corolla and European Auris siblings, and the latter isn’t expected to be unveiled until this September’s Paris Auto Show. “

I’ll ask tomorrow at the Toyota results conference in Tokyo. Not that I expect any answers .

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4 of 30 comments
  • Omoikane Omoikane on Feb 06, 2012

    There were about 305000 Corolla/Matrix sold in North America in 2011. A little over 240000 in US, about 52000 in Canada and the rest in Mexico. This a very low number, probably the lowest in the last 15 years. Toyota Cambridge (Ontario/Canada) Corolla/Matrix nominal capacity is 200000. In a good year and running maximum overtime allowed under current Ontario labor regulations they might get to 230000 units. But overtime is expensive and over a longer period of time places a lot of strain on people and their families. Toyota believes there is room for improvement in the sales numbers for Corolla/Matrix and they are preparing for that eventuality. It will take more than 1 year from now for Mississippi to get close to nominal capacity and by that time the Corolla/Matrix North American sales could well reach 350000 units (200k from Cambridge and 150k from Mississippi). And that will historically be a low number... Until then, Cambridge will be running overtime, Mississippi will try to get its act together and the balance will have to be imported from Japan.

    • See 1 previous
    • Omoikane Omoikane on Feb 07, 2012

      @TokyoPlumber Toyota is recovering after a perfect storm and quadruple whammy (recession, Ray LaHood smear campaign, Japan tsunami and Thailand floods). I believe the Corolla sales numbers will substantially improve and two years from now both Corolla producing plants will be running overtime to meet demand. I suggest a replacement question for Bertel: when and where will Toyota build a Prius plant in North America ? In related news, one of LaHood’s helpers is on the hook for $2.6 Million, payable to Toyota…

  • Obbop Obbop on Feb 07, 2012

    You can have that Corolla in any color you want as long as it is black.

  • 2ACL Some of the reported issues sound expensive for all but the most committed wrenchers. Scant documentation on some of the previous work is also a minus. I wouldn't mind something like this, but whereas the seller is trying to make room, I don't have any for something this intensive.
  • Merc190 Any Alfa has a unique character built in, so there's that, once you get it running properly, until it doesn't...
  • Syke Yeah, no sympathy for the dealerships whatsoever. I've gone enough thru training a dealership's salesperson under the guise of trying to buy an EV. I'm pleasantly surprised that Ford's insisting on Level 3 DC Fast Charging rather than the usual Level 2 that most dealerships have now. This is definitely forcing a commitment on the part of the dealer that they're going to be serious about selling EV's.Oh yeah, DC Fast Charging is never free, so you're definitely talking another income stream for the dealership. The big question is are they smart enough to make something real of it?I continue to say that the legacy automakers biggest problem when it comes to selling EV's is their own dealerships. And this article really drives that home.
  • SCE to AUX Yeah, I'm going to spend 5 or 6 figures on a used/abused car from a punk.
  • MrIcky I'm not buying any of Musk's BS until he steps into the ring with Zuckerberg. Musk dropped the challenge, Mark picked it up, Musk pussed out. 2 men enter, 1 man leaves- you know the law.