Toyota's Trying to Remain Non-threatening in the U.S.

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
toyotas trying to remain non threatening in the u s

While the Trump administration is carefully considering whether or not imported vehicles qualify as a threat to national security, and prepares for trade negotiations with Japan, Toyota is being very careful about how it comes across in America. Last week, the automaker announced plans to add about 600 jobs across the Southern United States — raising its proposed American expansion by another $749 million. In total, the company is expected to expend $13 billion inside the U.S. by 2022.

“In a time when others are scaling back, we believe in the strength of America and we’re excited about the future of mobility in America,” Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, said of the decision.

Throwing some casual shade at other automakers who are cutting down their domestic workforce is a sound PR strategy but, according to Toyota, its increased investment has nothing to do with global or industrial politics.

“We’ve been part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. for over 60 years,” Chris Reynolds, Toyota Motor North America’s chief administrative officer for manufacturing and corporate resources, was reported to have said on March 14th by Automotive News. “In a time when others are scaling back, we believe in the strength of America.”

Sounds like Toyota believes in the strength of America… and doesn’t want any of it focused against the business.

CEO Akio Toyoda spoke to Washington on Friday, reportedly claiming discussion of imported vehicles as a security threat makes him “feel sad.” But Toyota has pledged its support of a new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada, and was eager to see productive negotiations begin between Japan and America.

From Automotive News:

Toyota, whose American factory work force has grown to be about half the size of GM’s, could soon find itself forced to invest even more in the U.S. if it wants to avoid tariffs that would raise the prices of some vehicles. Reynolds and CEO Jim Lentz said they are eager to learn whether the Trump administration will indeed declare imported vehicles to be a national security threat and go forward with tariffs, so they can determine whether additional production needs to be shifted.

But they also said the company, which imports about half of its U.S. sales volume, won’t make any knee-jerk decisions either way.

“Our investment cycles go beyond any particular political cycle. We need to make decisions based on what we think the market needs rather than the policy direction of the moment,” Reynolds said. “All of this activity, I hope, shows that we’re a plus factor to the economic national security of the United States.”

Back in 2017, Toyota said it planned on investing $10 billion into its North American operations over five years. Since then, that sum has climbed to $13 billion. Toyota also recently said it would utilize the $749 million to expand facilities and/or add jobs in Huntsville, AL; Buffalo, WV; Jackson, TN; Georgetown, KY; and Troy, MO.

[Image: Toyota]

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  • RS RS on Mar 18, 2019

    It was tariffs that got foreign automakers to build plants in the US in the 80's. Harley got a tariff. The current (2015?) tire tariff expires next year, I think. IMO, tariffs are generally bad, but one sided tariffs that take advantage of the US are worse. It's insane to bash Trump for trying to even the playing field. All previous administrations did the same.

    • DenverMike DenverMike on Mar 18, 2019

      The offshore brands, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc, didn't build US assembly plants because of tariffs. What caused it was a temporary embargo on imported Japanese autos to the US. That was early '80s, and they called it the Voluntary Import Reduction or something to the effect. Today offshore brands simply assemble cars in the US since it makes sense in many ways. Favorable low (non-union) wages, build/sell on location, currency exchange rates, etc, make it completely worthwhile. German automakers were not part of the VIR or any embargo, but they find it favorable building cars in the US and even shipping back, yes importing "German" autos to Germany. It's that favorable and they still pay very high tariffs up on entering Europe... That really says it all.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 18, 2019

    I don't really care where the manufacturer is based. I would rather have a Japanese or South Korean based manufacturer that employs Americans than an allegedly American based manufacturer that manufactures in China. Do you honestly believe that Barra or the credenza guy care anymore about the American worker than a Japanese manufacturer?

  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.
  • Inside Looking Out To me it looks like French version of Hummer. The difference is that while American Hummer projects power French little Oli projects weakness.That vehicle reflects the bleak future for EU. For now they have to survive coming winter but in general population collapse it coming soon, Europeans will be gone in the long run. Only artifacts like this concept and legends will remind us about advanced and proud civilization that populated that small continent the civilization that in the end lacked will to exist.
  • Conundrum "the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union." Nah, wrong. But it's Posky, so should I be surprised? That body material, Duroplast, was invented by Germans, used on the East German Trabant car and dulled many a saw blade when trying to cut it. Soviets made regular sheet tin cars. Nothing fancy, they just worked, like Soviet farm tractors you could repair with a pipe wrench and a 14 lb maul. They exported quite a few to Canada in the '60s and '70s and people used to swear by them.I suppose this new Citroen Ollie has LED lights. If they fail, does one go to the Dollarama for a $1 flashlight, then rip out and use those LED "bulbs" for a repair?I think this Ollie thing is off the rails. The Citroen 2CV was ingenious, both in chassis and especially suspension design and execution, but where's the innovation in this thing? Processed cardboard panels, when corrugated tin, a Citroen and Junkers favorite fascination would be just fine. Updated with zinc coating from circa 1912 and as used in garbage cans and outdoor wash tubs ever since, the material lasts for decades. Citroen chose not to zinc plate their 2CVs, just as the car industry only discovered the process in the mid 1980s, lagging garbage can manufacturers by three-quarters of acentury, with Japan holding out until the mid '90s. Not many 1995 Accords still around.This Ollie thing is a swing and a complete miss, IMO. Silly for silly's sake, but that's the modern day automotive designer for you. Obsessed with their own brilliance, like BMW and Toyota's crews creating mugs/maws only a catfish could love, then claiming it's for "brand identity" when people take offense at ugly and say so. They right, you wrong. And another thing -- hell, Ford in the 1950s, if not well before, and innumberable Australians found that a visor stuck out from the roof over the windshield keeps the sun out when necessary, but Citroen delivers first class BS that an upright windshield is the solution. And as GM found out in their newly-introduced late 1930s transit buses, flat windshields are bad for reflections, so they actually changed to a rearward slanting windshield.This design reeks of not applying already learned lessons, instead coming up with useless new "ideas" of almost zero merit. But I'm sure they're proud of themselves, and who gives a damn about history, anyway? "We new young whiz kids know better".
  • Conundrum Can't see that the Espada chassis had much to do with the Miura. The Miura had a rear-mounted transverse V12 with the transmission and final drive all part of the engine block. So it's a bit of a stretch saying the north-south V12 and regular transmission Espada chassis was related to the Miura. It looks to be no more than an update of the 400 GT. And short and long-arm independendent suspension was hardly unique -- a '53 Chev had that in front, it was standard for years on most cars that didn't have Mac struts. The Brits call SLA suspension double wishbone, so Honda thought that sounded more mysterious than SLA and used that terminology in ads, but it's the same thing. Only a few mid '30s cars had same length upper and lower A-arms like a '36 Chev, before the obvious advantage of a short upper arm for camber control was introduced. Of course Ford used a dead beam front axle until 1949, so it was last to climb out of the stone age.Do you have a link to a reference that says the Miura and Espada chassis were related?
  • FreedMike One of the things that we here in North America often forget about Europe is that it's a COMPLETELY different world to drive in. Imagine driving in the downtown area of the city you live in 24/7, and never leaving it, and you have a decent simulation of what it's like to drive in a place like Paris, or London, or Rome - or Manhattan, for that matter. As far as the "dystopia" is concerned, I don't really see it that way. This isn't made for people living in the 'burbs - it's for urban dwellers. And for that application, this car would be about perfect. The big question is how successful the effort to provide large-scale EV charging in urban areas will be.