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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Jun 16 2010, 10:18 AM


The end goal for most venture-capital financed start-ups is to issue an IPO and help get some money into the hands of those investors brave enough to give the company money at the early stages. Tesla Motors, perhaps the first Silicon Valley car company(and headed by Elon Musk, a former dot-com executive), is about to do just that, after filing papers with the Security and Exchange Commission, detailing terms of their IPO.

Tesla is expected to issue roughly 11 million shares of the company, with the shares going for $14 to $16 each. As a reward for the IPO, Toyota will invest another $50 million in the company, as part of an alliance between the two companies, which includes the NUMMI auto plant in California, and a new mass market sedan in 2012.

So far, Tesla only sells a 2 seat sports car, the Tesla Roadster, but the company plans to introduce a high end sedan, known as the Model S, in the near future. So far, Tesla has continually lost money each quarter, with total revenues of just under $150 million.

[Source: Detroit News]

 |  Jun 10 2010, 9:18 AM


It appears as though last month’s much-touted tie-up between Toyota and American electric car maker Tesla Motors was more of a publicity stunt than the start of a brave new electric world. In a recently filed IPO statement to the SEC, Tesla says that while there are a lot of good intentions to work together on future electric vehicles and bring the Tesla Model S to market, “we have not entered into any agreements with Toyota for any such arrangement, including any purchase orders, and we may never do so.”

The deal, it seems, depends on Tesla’s IPO, which is how the electric car maker will generate the funds necessary to buy the NUMMI factory from Toyota. In other words, no IPO, no deal and no Model S build in California by former Toyota employees using the Japanese automakers proven formula for success.

So why all the fuss about the Tesla/Toyota tie-up? The folks at TTAC suggested it was just a whim by company CEO Akio Toyoda after driving the Tesla Roadster and falling in love with it. We suggest it’s more likely a political publicity stunt by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to get the support of his Prius driving constituents and help put some positive light on his bankrupt state.

[Source: NYT via AutoblogGreen]

 |  Jun 01 2010, 10:58 AM

At 38 years old, Elon Musk has already lived a life filled with more adventures and pitfalls than most of us can fathom. The founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX was also a one time owner of a McLaren F1, the holy grail of car collecting, and served as the inspiration for Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in the latest films inspired by the Marvel Comic franchise.

Unlike the real Tony Stark, Musk is currently mired in a messy divorce, and the latest court filings show that he is pretty much flat broke, relying on “emergency loans” from friends, which we presume is the wealthy billionaire version of asking “Dude, can I crash on your couch?”

While various gossip blogs are injecting their own analysis into the mix (it doesn’t help that Musk left his wife for 24-year-old actress Talullah Riley), The Truth About Cars’ Bertel Schmitt managed to extrapolate just how the divorce problems will affect Tesla Motors (emphasis added by Autoguide).

If Tesla’s IPO is successful, his finances would look brighter. But there are two problems. The court has slapped a protective order on Musk’s holdings, says Venturebeat. He won’t be able to liquidate significant holdings without first getting permission from his ex-wife. That’ll cost him. Then, there is the matter of how Musk’s precarious finances will affect the IPO.

Should the IPO fail, then no money from Toyota – it’s contingent on the successful IPO. We, the U.S. taxpayer likely won’t see any of the money the Department of Energy loaned Tesla. Should the IPO succeed and the Tesla stock sink afterwards, then you won’t have to wait long for an onslaught of lawyers. The dirty laundry most likely will feature prominently.

If you think that’s bad, wait till you see what Musk’s ex-wife is asking for in the divorce settlement.

[Source: The Truth About Cars]

 |  May 26 2010, 11:46 AM


After acquiring the former NUMMI plant jointly owned by General Motors and Toyota, Tesla Motors was immediately targeted by the UAW for a guilt-trip campaign by the United Auto Workers to re-hire the 4,700 workers set to lose their jobs as the plant closed.

In an interview on a California radio show, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was asked about the hiring situation, Musk affirmed his commitment to getting the workers their jobs back, telling listeners that “It is always easier to hire from the neighborhood” and that “hiring former HUMMI workers is a priority for us.”

Being a low volume manufacturer, Tesla will likely only need 1,000 workers, but the opportunity always remains for expansion. More interestingly, the plant’s union status could be a future contention. No doubt the UAW will want to see it continue, but past issues with the union, and the need for strict quality control in an ultra-premium vehicle will likely not mesh well with the union’s mentality towards hiring and firing workers.

[Source: Autoblog Green]

 |  May 21 2010, 5:24 PM


The United Auto Workers is busy inserting itself into the Toyota/Tesla joint venture barely 24 hours after it was even announced. The two companies announced that they would be collaborating on electric vehicles, and Tesla would be taking over the revolutionary (at the time) NUMMI plant in Fremont, California, to build their new Model S sedan.

The NUMMI plant was a groundbreaking venture between Toyota and GM that saw one of the first instances of Japanese management practices and American-style union labor.  Before the collaboration, the Fremont plant was responsible for some of the most notorious horror stories regarding American auto workers, such as on-the-job intoxication and workers putting coke bottles inside vehicles so that the rattling would annoy customers. By the time the plant had closed at the end of 2009, the plant had experienced a 180-degree turnaround, with quality levels on par with Toyota’s best-performing Japanese factories.

4,500 NUMMI employees lost their jobs when the plant was shuttered, and it’s no surprise that the UAW is pushing hard to get the jobs back. An all-American, union made electric car would probably go along way to boost the perception of electric cars in the public eye, but with a pricetag of over $100,00, you can be certain that the amount of tomfoolery and quality defects that Tesla will tolerate is essentially zero.

[Source: Autoblog]

 |  May 21 2010, 7:17 AM


Japanese giant Toyota Motor Corp and American electric car start-up Tesla Motors have announced a partnership that will see both automakers work towards future electric cars. In the short term, however, the deal has a more immediate result, namely that Toyota is spending $50 million to buy a significant stake in Tesla, which will then use that money to purchase a part of the NUMMI factory in Fremont, California.

Until recently NUMMI has been used by Toyota to build both the Corolla and Tacoma. Tesla will use it to build the company’s new flagship Model S electric luxury sedan. Company CEO Elon Musk said he expects to build roughly 20,000 models a year at first (around 2012), bringing 1,000 jobs back to the NUMMI plant. If the plan ever reaches max capacity of half a million models it could employ as many as 10,000.

In addition to the physical assets, Toyota will also teach Tesla about its production system, a “widely copied system that lead to dramatic quality improvements and unprecedented manufacturing flexibility and worker satisfaction.”

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda hopes the partnership will also benefit his company by learning from the small and agile Tesla. “Through this partnership, by working together with a venture business such as Tesla, Toyota would like to learn from the challenging spirit, quick decision-making, and flexibility that Tesla has,” said Toyoda. “Decades ago, Toyota was also born as a venture business. By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business spirit,’ and take on the challenges of the future.”

With access to Toyota’s production methods and a proper facility to build the cars, Tesla intends to drive down the cost of electric cars through economies of scale. The company’s first car, the Tesla Roadster, costs roughly $100,000 while the new Model S is expected to retail for $49,900 after a federal tax credit.

[Source: Toyota and Autoblog]

Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Aug 28 2009, 9:38 AM


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.

[Source: Automotive News via Autoblog and Autoweek]

 |  Jun 29 2009, 8:18 PM

2010 Toyota Prius-34

Toyota may share a version of its Prius hybrid with General Motors according to a recent report by Bloomberg. Sources say Toyota President Akio Toyoda and GM CEO Fritz Henderson will meet in August in Michigan to discuss the possibility of selling a version GM-badged Prius – or possibly using Toyota hybrid technology to build a different hybrid vehicle.

News of the product sharing comes on a day when GM announced it would pull out of its 50/50 sharing of the California NUMMI facility with Toyota – where the Vibe and Matrix are built. As GM sheds its share in the facility Toyota is left looking for ways to make use of the facility.

One possibility is that both automakers will be able to reach a new agreement once GM exits bankruptcy. Toyota is already looking at moving some Prius production to the facility after it shelved plans to build the popular hybrid at facility in Blue Springs, Mississippi late last year.

While it’s unlikely that Toyota would give up its Prius technology to GM, a licensing agreement could see Toyota profit as GM profits. Currently Toyota has this arrangement with Ford.

As Toyota brings out its plug-in Prius, however, it may not be so worried about giving up older technology to GM.

General Motors is expected to launch its own plug-in hybrid, the Volt, next year, but pricing for that model is already expected to be well-above the cost of a Prius.

[Source: Bloomberg]

 |  Jun 22 2009, 12:10 PM


Contrary to recent reports that the Vibe would be the sole Pontiac model to continue on into 2010, General Motors has now decided to end production of the utilitarian vehicle early. Production of the Vibe at the GM/Toyota joint-venture New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated (NUMMI) facility will end this August.

Several weeks ago GM’s interim CEO Fritz Henderson stated that the G8 would not continue on past 2009, while other reports highlighted the elimination of the G3 and G5. The G6 will be offered to rental, corporate and government fleets.

There is no official word on when the Solstice, but it is also expected to be phased-out this year as GM seems dedicated to eliminating the Pontiac brand before 2010 even gets started.

GM continues to reiterate that it wants to work with Toyota to develop another shared platform at the NUMMI facility. Toyota may, however, have its hands full with the upcoming Toyota-Subaru project.

[Source: Edmunds]

General Motors Planning To Leave NUMMI

Struggling automaker wants out of joint project with Toyota

 |  Apr 28 2009, 7:39 PM


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.

[Source: GMInsideNews]

 |  Apr 27 2009, 7:21 PM


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]