QOTD: Automotive Cooperation Done Right?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd automotive cooperation done right

In last Wednesday’s QOTD post we covered all the worst examples of automotive collaboration. Commenters racked up the examples, sharing collaboration failures even worse than the Jaguar X-Type selected for textual pillory in the post.

Today we flip it around and discuss the best outcomes of automaker cooperation.

As before, both formal joint ventures and more casual manufacturer cooperation are up for discussion. Today’s example of cooperative excellence came with length and some serious production figures.

Of course that’s not really a Chevrolet Nova in the photo, but rather a Toyota Corolla. The twins were the first product of the long-lived NUMMI plant. Opened in 1984, the plant was jointly owned by General Motors and Toyota. The location originally existed as General Motors Fremont Assembly, in operation between 1962 and 1982. Fremont produced a variety of vehicles including the C/K trucks, Pontiac GTO, and the Chevrolet Celebrity.

The benefits for each company were clear: General Motors wanted to learn about lean manufacturing from an expert, and Toyota wanted to establish a manufacturing location in North America while implementing their production methodology on a new continent. A secondary benefit to Toyota came from the avoidance of import restrictions, back when such things were a concern.

Cars produced at NUMMI included one generation of Nova, five generations of Corolla, three generations of Geo/Chevy Prizm, the Toyota Pickup, Tacoma, and Matrix, and the Pontiac Vibe. Peak production occurred in 2006; a hefty 428,633 units.

Though the products were just fine, all was not well at NUMMI. The plant operated at about 59 percent capacity in the late Eighties, and had not made back its investment costs by 1991. GM was unable to implement the lean manufacturing techniques across their other U.S. plants. Toyota experienced higher costs at NUMMI, as it was the company’s only union plant in the country. Toyota’s manufacturing and supply chains were centralized in the Midwest, very far from Fremont. Relations were strained.

In June 2009 GM announced the joint venture’s end, as it and Toyota could not decide on a worthwhile product to produce at the location. Later that year, Toyota announced Tacoma production would shift to San Antonio, with Corolla moving to Mississippi. The last vehicle produced under the GM-Toyota ownership was a Corolla, on April Fools Day 2010. NUMMI lives on today as the Tesla Factory and tent city.

What’s your pick for best manufacturer cooperation?

[Images: GM]

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3 of 85 comments
  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Aug 14, 2019

    What about the Mclaren Pontiac Grand Prix? Think of it as the everyman's F1!

  • Brn Brn on Aug 14, 2019

    Jaguar / Ford. Hate the X-Type all you want. - The Lincoln LS was a great car. - Ford did wonders for the XJ and XK. They reworked them, dramatically improving quality, while maintaining the Jaguar feel. Love those cars.

  • SCE to AUX Love it, and the price is a bargain, actually. The clean exterior is nice.Also, this caught my attention: "105mm throttle body"... that's a lot of air flow.
  • Tassos I predict this will be a big hit and conquer new markets. Housewives will be lining up to grab them, and the dealers will charge $200k a unit. Why? Because they already buy SUVs and crossovers they never needed, which have much less interior space than their minivans. So they will sacrifice a bit more of that space, but at least they will not drive identical looking crossovers with their accursed neighbor's wife.I also predict the Tesla Plaid and even lesses Teslas will beat the living daylights of this idiotic vehicle, and without even breaking a sweat.
  • Bobbysirhan I fully expect to be reading about the last-of-the-line Challenger Demon 170 Redeye Widebody three years from now.
  • Dougjp Finally, luxury/strong performance in a compact size car. Unlike the Civic R, the market for this segment has predominantly automatics buyers. Yet year after year, it appears Acura can't make such a car. They did have a 10 speed with torque (Accord), which counters the thought that they can't make a torque capable automatic.Oh well, look elsewhere I guess.
  • Analoggrotto The real question, how many years or months after the end of production will this vehicle be completely eliminated from the street? Neon lights, yellow spoiler covers, idiotic stripes, brazzers license plate frames, obnoxious exhausts and all.