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Back in 1984, General Motors and Toyota teamed up to open a joint manufacturing facility on the site of an old GM car plant in Freemont, California. New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) was conceived to help Toyota gain a manufacturing foothold in North America, while allowing GM to learn from Toyota’s manufacturing processes (in an effort to achieve greater levels of quality – this was the ’80s remember).
The plant, which mainly produced the Chevy Nova, Geo Prizm, Toyota Corolla and Pontiac Vibe (above), was shut down in 2010 when Toyota moved production of Corollas in North America to it’s plant in Cambridge, Ontario.
Now, Toyota is apparently suing the remnants of the ‘old’ GM (known as Motors Liquidation Company) for breach of contract, claiming $73 million in damages, namely to cover research and development costs, before GM pulled out of NUMMI last year as part of it’s bankruptcy and re-structuring program.
Toyota spokesman Keisuke Kirimoto said that the lawsuit is “part of the process of winding down the NUMMI venture.” The closure of the NUMMI plant resulted in the loss of some 4700 jobs, though unlike some other facilities, the Freemont factory isn’t going to be turned into tract housing or a shopping center. Far from it actually.
Back in May, Toyota sold the land to Tesla Motors (as part of a larger electric vehicle partnership), which includes some 207 acres (about 55 percent) of the land at the site. Tesla says it plans to build its new Model S sedan at the facility, eventually ramping up production to around 20,000 vehicles a month, which will result in the creation of around 1000 jobs.
[Source: Automotive News]
Toyota has confirmed that, for the first time, it will close one of its U.S. plants. The facility is the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Freemont, California.
“After the decision by General Motors to withdraw from the NUMMI joint venture, Toyota conducted a thorough review of its alternatives in light of current and anticipated market conditions,” said Toyota executive vice president Atsushi Niimi in a statement. “Based on this review, we have determined that over the mid- to long-term, it just would not be economically viable to continue the production contract with NUMMI. This is most unfortunate, and we deeply regret having to take this action.”
“We remain strongly committed to maintaining a substantial production presence in the U.S.A. and North America. To that end, we will consider moving additional Corolla production back to North America over time.”
Opened as a joint project with General Motors in 1984, Toyota’s decision to shutter the factory became necessary when GM exited the deal through its recent bankruptcy proceedings.
At the NUMMI facility Toyota assembled the Corolla and Tacoma pickup truck. Now Toyota will have to rely on its Cambridge, Ontario plant for all of its North American supply of Corollas. Inventory of the compact car is particularly low due to the Corolla being the most popular car sold under the cash-for-clunkers program.
The NUMMI facility employed 4,700 workers, which were Toyota’s only unionized workforce.
The move by Toyota comes as Japan’s number one automaker is reportedly looking for ways to cut production by 10 percent. According to Japan’s Nikkei business paper, the automaker is looking to reduce output from 10 million vehicles to 9 million vehicles. Along with the NUMMI closure, Toyota is also expected to shut down a production line in Japan next spring, as well as one in the U.K.
Struggling automaker wants out of joint project with Toyota
With the Pontiac brand gone, GM is looking to get out of its arrangement with Toyota that spawned the Vibe/Matrix models
In stark contrast to official statements by General Motors reps (and to a story we ran yesterday) the struggling U.S. automaker does indeed want out of the joint project with Toyota that saw the creation of the Vibe/Matrix.
Word comes at GMInsideNews reports that it has obtained a list of four of the six plants General Motors plans to shut down or idle as a part of its new viability plan. Included on that list are the Wilmington, Orion and Pontiac plants… as well as the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) facility in Fremont, CA.
Just yesterday Pontiac spokesman Jim Hopson stated that GM is in talks with Toyota about the shared NUMMI project and that ideally GM would like to collaborate on another vehicle.
“We’re clearly not backing away from our partnership at NUMMI,” Hopson said. “There’s no issue of us backing away from NUMMI.”
But apparently there is.
GMInsideNews is reporting that their sources say GM wants out of NUMMI entirely. And to stoke the flames of that fire even further the source claims that were GM to go into bankruptcy, its part of the NUMMI facility would wind up in the “BadGM” pile.
With news today that the Pontiac brand will in fact be eliminated, General Motors is eager to get working with Toyota to build a new shared platform to replace the Vibe.
The Vibe is to GM what the Matrix is to Toyota, and both models come from an evenly shared joint venture known as New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. or NUMMI.
Pontiac spokesman Jim Hopson told Automotive News that the company is currently in talks with Toyota to develop a new platform and says General Motors will stand behind its commitments to the NUMMI project.
“We’re clearly not backing away from our partnership at NUMMI,” Hopson told Automotive News. “There’s no issue of us backing away from NUMMI.”
The plan is to develop another shared platform with Toyota that would be sold under one of the four remaining GM brands: Chevy, GMC, Buick or Cadillac. There is no word on what sort of a vehicle this new model might be, especially as the Vibe/Matrix fit a perfect nice segment for both companies, situated somewhere between a compact sedan, a mid-sized sedan and a crossover/SUV.
The obcvious solution, in the mean time, would seem to be a rebadging of the Vibe as a Chevy model, but for some reason General Motors isn’t interested. Instead GM is set on washing its hands of the vehicle despite how successful it has been for the company.
There’s really nothing wrong with the Vibe,” Hopson said. “Its only problem right now is that it is a Pontiac.”
[Source: Automotive News]