Posts Tagged ‘NUMMI’

California Officiates a Second Shotgun Wedding for Toyota – First with GM, Now with Tesla

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Sometimes, even shotgun weddings have to end. Like the GM NUMMI deal that got hammered out during the era of “Voluntary” Export Restraints back in the 1980′s. Well, that money-losing fiasco ended last year (along with GM) so we’re on to a new marrriage. This time, Toyota is hooking up with Tesla Motors.

Why? Well, one reason must have something to do with having the California congressional delegation on Toyota’s side the next time people start acting up. Plus, Toyota is good at building cars and Telsa is good at not building cars, so Tesla needs all the help it can get.  

Tesla and Toyota just got married in California. But how long will the honeymoon last?

via Mr. Wright

(Is there nothing PhotoShop can’t do? Oh, wait a minute, yes there’s something!)

Obviously Tesla, which has broken many promises over the years, didn’t have a prayer of keeping all its new promises without a whole bunch of help. This will be interesting…

Vaya con Gaia, Toyota.

California NUMMI Commission Offers Toyota No Carrots and No Sticks

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Here’s the thing about that NUMMI plant in Fremont that’s closing down at the end of the month – Toyota thought about making Prius hybrid electric cars there after the departure of General Motors, but then rejected that idea. So, Corolla production will  be taken care of by an existing plant in Ontario, Canada and pickup trucks, too, will be made somewhere else if necessary. This all got worked out last summer.  

(Here’s Toyota’s current take on the situation from NUMMI spinmeister Lance Tomasu for the record. Enjoy.)

Anyway right now, California’s Toyota NUMMI Commission is coming back from Japan after trying to nag Toyota brass into keeping the Fremont factory going. Take a look at their report. The Question of the Day is why Toyota should remain the only car manufacturer in the entire western United States.

So you’d think that California would offer some carrots and/or wave some sticks around at Toyota but the Commission’s not really equipped to do that all that much.

It’s not like they can’t find some carrots or sticks in their quiver, it’s that their quiver is pretty much empty.

According to the commission, the chance for Toyota to build hybrid electric Corollas in Fremont is somehow some big benefit to Toyota that Toyota is oblivious to. That’s not really a carrot, actually, and you’d think that Toyota would have their own ideas about making cars. Would consumers want to buy a “California Corolla” just because it’s made in Fremont? I don’t think so. Very possibly, Toyota having a big pickem-up factory in Texas helps sell big V8 pickem-ups, but the average Californian would prefer a Made In Japan label, it would seem.   

Another carrot the commission could dangle would be the synergy from making cars in the same state as tiny, troubled Tesla Motors. That’s not really a carrot either, huh?

Well, how about some sticks instead? What will happen to Toyota if it shuts down its money-losing plant in Fremont? Nothing, it would seem. One might suppose that quiet diplomacy would have been used on Toyota last year, to no avail.

Back in the day, down in Fremont:

   

via CanadaGood

Now, let’s read up on the news of the past weekend. Has Toyota really ”lost its way?” No. Let’s see here, did Toyota make a mistake with how it handled the floor mat / plastic gas pedal parts / ?????? / issues? Yes, but that’s just a hiccup in the sands of time.

Is Toyota’s decision to discontinue production in California without GM as a partner “suicidal?” No. 

And is the success of the Prius model due to “enthusiastic Californians” or is it due to Toyota spending billions to develop the technology and then selling them at a loss for years and years? You Make The Call.  

And are the people of Mississippi looking forward to making hybrid vehicles for Toyota in a brand-new factory that’s going unused right now? Yes. Toyota decided last year to make Priuseses in Blue Springs, Mississippi instead of California. That’s California’s loss, no argument about that.

All right, here’s entire conclusion of the Blue Ribbon Commission’s report, in bold.

“The collaborative efforts of Californians, which have bolstered NUMMI’s success, are ongoing.”

Was NUMMI a success, really? Didn’t it lose money every year for the past quarter century? Yes.

“A ‘Red Team’ of state, local government, private sector and other officials have proposed significant tax and business incentives to retain the plant.”

Presumably, Toyota knows about this, but is not interested.

 ”Closing NUMMI now is a decision of choice, not necessity.”

This is true. If Toyota were really afraid of the consequences of closing down NUMMI then maybe they’d run it at a loss, if necessary, forever.

“Closure abandons a loyal, highly-skilled workforce and places a heavy burden on communities and the state when they can least afford it. The decision is inconsistent with the values that have led Toyota to unparalleled economic success. It elevates narrow, short-term corporate interests above the interests of workers, the public and the long-term interests of Toyota itself.

Don’t really get this. Why should Toyota have a plant in California instead of some other state or nearby country?  

 “Looking at the pending NUMMI plant shutdown, and then you look at larger problems that Toyota is having in America” Richard Holober, from the Consumer Federation of California, told the NUMMI Blue Ribbon Commission.

Well, Toyota’s “having problems in America” primarily due to a decision to save a few pennies by using a plastic-on-plastic device to make holding your foot on the gas pedal a bit easier AND not reacting quickly enough to incident reports. This issue will get solved.

“I can’t help but conclude that this is not an isolated plant closure decision, but a symptom of a much, much deeper problem with what has happened to Toyota as a corporation.”

What has “happened to Toyota as a corporation” is that it’s become the best car company in the world. This was true last year, it’s true this year, it’ll be true next year.

“Akio Toyoda, the Toyota president whose grandfather founded the automaker in 1937, admitted at a February 24 Congressional hearing, “recently we haven’t lived up to the standards you’ve come to expect from us or that we expect from ourselves.” He also stated that one of the automaker’s great strengths was facing its mistakes and addressing them. The decision to close NUMMI reflects the period when the automaker pursued a hyper-expansion and abandoned its values in the interest of narrow, short-term financial goals.

“Hyper-expansion” = Making Popular Cars. “Narrow, short-term financial goals” = GM. Now, Toyota changed a bit after getting listed on the stock exchange in New Yawk, and Toyota has more hide-bound corporate culture than it probably needs but it’s doing all right overall.

“Toyota, however, has risen to outstanding heights by building its success precisely on strong core values. These included: 1) building only the highest quality vehicles; 2) customer safety first; 3) lifetime job security for its workers; 4) caring partnerships with communities; 5) concern for the environment. A very visible first step toward returning to this successful corporate ethic would be to keep NUMMI open, and show California and the world that the company has reached into its heritage to define its future.

I don’t know, Toyota participated in NUMMI during a time when there was a threat of massive tariffs being applied to cars imported from Japan. The 1981-1994 Voluntary Export Restraint plan of that era was a disaster for American consumers (and, speaking of “narrow, short-term financial goals,” the long-term health of the American automobile industry.) Something like the threat of massive tariffs on Toyota products would be a nice stick for the NUMMI Commission to wave about, but, for whatever reason, Toyota doesn’t seemed to be all that worried about that issue. 

“This is the moment for political leaders in Washington and Sacramento to address the closure. Millions of Californians are hurting in the worst job market in seven decades and are deeply apprehensive about the future. The most immediate, direct, and cost effective jobs program available is to keep NUMMI running.

There’s no question that keeping NUMMI running would benefit California. The question is why Toyota should lose money to finance an American stimulus plan?

“This stimulus plan delivers 25,000 jobs and could save $2.3 billion. The automaker and California would reap a triple bottom-line benefit: Toyota would restore its image and retain a world-class plant; workers and their families would make it through a dark economic winter; and California would get further down the road to economic growth and a green future.

O.K., the Blue Ribbon Commission is traveling home from Nagoya, Japan now.

Perhaps the their trip to Toyota City will prove useful even if the NUMMI factory shuts down on sked this month.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the Commission got.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer Realistic About NUMMI Commission, Report Due March 3rd

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Our State Treasurer certainly seems realistic about the chances of getting Toyota to take over the Toyota/GM NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA, so that’s a good thing. Bill just wants to do all that he can before giving up.

Bill Lockyer introducing commission members at the initial meeting in the CPUC Building on Van Ness yesterday:

Click to expand

Here are some new deets, below. Let’s wait and see what they come up with…

“Toyota’s Proposed Plant Shutdown to Be Scrutinized by Panel of California Leaders

Blue Ribbon Commission holds public hearing, will issue findings next Wednesday on economic, social, environmental costs of automaker’s proposal to close award-winning NUMMI plant in Fremont

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 24 — A 10-member panel of California leaders convened by State Treasurer Bill Lockyer held a public hearing in San Francisco today to gather facts and take testimony from a broad range of experts on the expected impact of Toyota’s planned shutdown of New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. – or NUMMI – auto plant in Fremont. The plant has consistently won top ratings from J.D. Powers and is widely regarded as a model for the auto industry.

A shutdown of NUMMI would be the largest mass layoff in the current recession, and the prospect of having to endure the loss of potentially tens of thousands more jobs in the plant itself and related industries has spurred broad concern throughout the state. The Blue Ribbon Commission has been charged with both collecting the facts on the impact of closing NUMMI and examining alternatives for keeping the plant in operation.

Lockyer explained, “Californians are deeply concerned about how the loss of this plant might affect their economy, their state and their lives, and it is the job of this Commission to help find the answers to those questions. It is a testament to the quality of leaders on this panel that they have been more than willing to take up this challenge. I have asked the panel, and they have agreed, to gather and assess the facts and to have a report on my desk by next Wednesday morning so that I can share it with the public at noon.”

Acclaimed actor Danny Glover, who serves on the Commission, echoed those sentiments when he said, “California leaders – religious, civic, labor, and business – have come together on this Commission to determine for ourselves if the closing of Toyota’s California plant is necessary, to assess the severity of the impact that would follow such a closing, and, if possible, to explore strategies that might make it possible to avoid a shutdown. It is an honor to have been asked to serve my state in this serious and important matter.”

Some economic experts have projected that Toyota’s impending NUMMI shutdown could cost the state – already one of the hardest-hit by unemployment during this recession – as many as 50,000 more jobs. That figure includes the more than 5,000 now employed at the plant itself and an estimated 50,000 more in related industries up and down the state. In anticipation of the closure, some companies that supply the plant with parts and material have already announced layoff plans.

Concerns about the impact of the shutdown do not end with its economic consequences, however. The membership of the Commission reflects the breadth of issues that have fueled the growing alarm over Toyota’s plan to abandon auto manufacturing in California. The members of the Commission are:

 –  Professor Harley Shaiken, UC Berkeley
 –  Bob Wasserman, Mayor of Fremont
 –  Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Presbyterian Church USA
 –  Victor Uno, Chairman, Port of Oakland
 –  Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of California
 –  Bruce Kern, Executive Director, East Bay Economic Development Alliance
 –  Carl Pope, President, Sierra Club
 –  Nina Moore, Fremont Chamber of Commerce
 –  Art Pulaski, Chief Officer, California Labor Federation
 –  Danny Glover, Actor.

 
Another Commission member, the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, who is the head of the Presbyterian Church USA and of a San Francisco Bay area congregation, said, “This Commission has a moral duty to serve our community and state to sort out the facts, to assess the implications of those facts, and to search for solutions that will best serve the needs of Californians and their families.”

Source: California Labor Federation”

Danny Glover’s Going to Travel to Toyota City, Japan to Keep Our NUMMI Plant Open?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Let’s see here, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer juststarted a commission to keep Fremont’s NUMMI auto plant running past April, 2010? This commission, meeting for the first time tomorrow in San Francisco, will soon be going on the road, it appears:

“The treasurer’s office said commission members will go to Japan and report directly to Toyota officials.”

Ready or not, Toyota, here we come.*   

A NUMMI representative parading on the Streets of San Francisco, during happier times a few years back:

The commission members:

UC Berkeley professor Harley Shaiken (chairman)
Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman
Presbyterian Church USA’s Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow
Port of Oakland Commission Chairman Victor Uno
Fremont Chamber of Commerce member Nina Moore
Consumer Federation of California Executive Director Richard Holober
East Bay Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Bruce Kern
Sierra Club of America President Carl Pope
Art Pulaski, Chief Officer, California Federation of Labor
Danny Glover, Actor

Look forward to reading Mr. Danny Glover’s Twitteringabout going 200 per on the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train when he’s on his way to Nagoya.

Does it make sense to build cars in the bay area anymore?** Would the bay area buy the products of the NUMMI plant in the future? We’ll see.

*Down with the landing gear/ up goes the useless prayer.

**The shut-down dealership in Oakland that the Chron’s op-ed fretted about, that deal had more to do with the health of Nissan than Toyota, actually. Anyway, the place just got reopened – called One Toyota of Oakland it is.  

San Francisco Photo: How Many of These Parked Cars were Made in America?

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Out of the more than two dozen vehicles (there are others around the corner where the street goes left) parked on this bricked-up San Francisco street, how many were made in the United States?

(Careful, it’s a trick!)

Click to expand:

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The answer: Zero percent. What about that big old Chrysler Town & Country minivan you say? Ooops, it was made in Canada, eh.

Hey, did you know that Canada is considered to be part of the United States when determining the “domestic” content of cars? Let’s see what U.S. Code TITLE 49 > SUBTITLE VI > PART C > CHAPTER 323 > § 32304 Passenger motor vehicle country of origin ­labeling has to say:

“6. ‘foreign content’ means passenger motor vehicle equipment that is not of United States/Canadian origin.”

It’s like Canada is the 51st State of America, or something. How convenient.

But hey, what aboot Mexico, eh? They make cars too? Yes, but no matter, Mexicans are foreigners and Canadians are Americans, under da law.

But what about Buying Local, isn’t belief in the wisdom of buying local a kind of San Francisco religion or something?

Well, yes it is a kind of religion, but it doesn’t apply to vehicles, manifestly. San Franciscans’ vehicles need to come from far-off locations like the Black Forest or Scandinavia or Toyota City.

But what about supporting unions, are these cars union-made? Well, the German ones most likely are, some other ones aren’t and the Japanese ones are made by so-called “union” workers.

All right, here’s your bonus question. Which vehicle is most likely to be on the road in 30 years? The Land Cruiser of course. It’s 100% made in Japan and the fact that it wasn’t in-style when it was made means that it won’t go out of style in the coming years.

This concludes San Francisco Photo: How Many of These Parked Cars were Made in America?

Sarcastic San Francisco Chronicle “Thanks” Toyota for 25 Years of NUMMI in the Bay Area

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

So, somehow, Toyota’s recent departure from Fremont’s NUMMI auto plant is connected with:

1. Our nation’s ridiculous Cash for Clunkers federal bailout, and/or

2. Nissan pulling financing from a car dealership in Oakland.

That’s the conclusion you’d reach if you gave Chronicle editorial “Thanks a lot, Toyota a gander. Hey Chronicle: WTF?

A typical San Francisco car crash scene, in this case on Hayes Street. Note the make of the vehicles making up the bread part of this sandwich – “Thanks a lot, Toyota!”

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Soooo…..

Toyota’s U.S. market share has something to do with the Cash for Clunkers program? Really?

Isn’t C4C a federal program, and isn’t Toyota moving production to other North American plants, so isn’t it pretty much a wash anyway?

Didn’t Toyota lose a boatload of money on NUMMI the past quarter century? 

So, in fact, hasn’t Toyota done the bay area huge favor by operating the plant and paying those high-salary (no, not BART-driver six-figure money but close enough) union jobs?

So you all want Toyota to continue to lose money on NUMMI indefinitely on into the future making products people don’t seem to want to buy?  

Does it make sense to build cars in California these days?  

Don’t all Enterprise Zones generally suck anyway?

Has Toyota ever before pulled out of a production plant anywhere in the world in its history? So why would they single out poor little California in 2009?

Perhaps Oakland and Northern California already have too many car dealerships anyway?

(Do I want undercoat(!) on my new car for $600, or chrome on the wheels for $1800 and how much added dealer markup would I like to pay? Well gee, give me ten minutes* to think about it, and why don’t you make out with my girlfriend right here in the showroom while I’m deciding.)

Perhaps we don’t need evil car dealerships at all anyway?

Oops, of course the San Francisco Chronicle needs car dealerships, but what about everybody else in the bay area?

People can buy expensive things, like MacBooks Air**, online, so why can’t we buy a Yaris Hybrid or something online?  

Oh, that’s right, it’s illegal or something. Well why’s that?

[Sarcasm Mode= ON]

Thanks a lot, San Francisco Chronicle!

[Sarcasm Mode= OFF]

*En realidad, I’ve purchased one new vehicle in my life, and that deal took 7 minutes to complete, a hefty, hefty, hefty discount off of MSRP, no test drive - car dealerships are evil, and let me tell you, the sole curriculum at so-called Toyota University seems to be how to extract as much money as possible for routine service.

**The plural form of MacBook Air.

San Francisco’s 42nd Annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, 2009

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

As expected, there was a great turnout for the 42nd Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown today. Sunny skies and the Grand Parade made today the busiest of the four-day festival. Let’s take a look at the staging area this morning.

Its Grand Marshall George Takei! Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (born in San Francisco) is seen here hanging out with Heidi Cheung, Miss San Francisco’s Outstanding Teen 2009 and Crystal Lee, Miss California’s Outstanding Teen 2008.

Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California President and Mrs. Masaaki Tanaka, Ambassador of Japan to the United States of America, H.E. Ambassador and Mrs. Ichiro Fujisajki, George Takei, and Consul General of Japan and Mrs. Yasumasa Nagamine:

The mise-en-scene in front of City Hall:. Click to expand:

My Melody, Hello Kitty, and Badtz Maru were pleased to be on the scene:

From Hawaii with aloha:

Photographer David Yu was welcomed by all, including this contingent from Los Angeles:

Miss National Asia Dow-An Kou is on the right:

Bevan Dufty chilling with local pageant winners. 

Elizabeth Kress, Miss San Francisco:

And Little Miss San Francisco 2009, Alyssa-Marie Muna:

And now on with the parade:

Senator Leland Yee:

Frosty Senator Mark Leno:

Assemblymember Fiona Ma with Bob Twomey:

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano:

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu:

And his ride for today:

Supervisor Bevan Dufty and company:

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi with the Japanese Ambassador and Consul General:

Supervisor Eric Mar:

 Richard Hashimoto, President of the Japantown Merchants Association:

Thought this was an electric Tesla Roadster at first. Actually, it’s the similar (but lighter) gas-powered Lotus Elise. (Horrible Tesla Motors is long on promises, certainly, but just because a toy car is expensive and is powered by electricity, that doesn’t mean it’s a desirable product, that doesn’t mean it represents “the high end.” Just ask Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ended up giving his Tesla Roadster back. Go ahead and buy one if you want, though. While you’re at it, why not buy an impractical electric Ultra Motor A2B bike and an impractical electric Segway Scooter as well.)

Speaking of cars, here’s part of the NUMMI contingent all the way from Fremont. It’s the only car factory in the West that’s still operating. Union labor, FYI 

Nihonmachi Little Friends:

And your reward for making it all the way to J-Town? Yummy chicken and rice balls from O-Izakaya Lounge at 1625 Post Street.

See you next year!