“We Welcome Everyone. Really”
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:
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.
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.
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”
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.
*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.
Just happened to be passing through the Western Addition last night, north of the North of Panhandle / NOPA area, when it was fairly obvious the SFPD was bringing it to the intersection of Eddy and Divisadero, like 20 vehicles and cops walking around with AR-15’s, the works.
Welcome machine* gun – as seen on a sidewalk of Divisadero Street last night. Click to expand:
Word on the street is that somebody fired a weapon (a shotgun? a “12-gauge shotgun”?) at somebody and then ran through the unlit parking lot of the New Liberation Presbyterian Church. Here’s the Google Maps (now with real-time bus arrival information, apparently) map:
And here’s the manhunt, in progress, complete with a Fillmore Center-style skyscraper residential building (is that an old failure of the bad old Redevelopment Agency or a new failure of the “new and improved” Redevelopment Agency? I can’t tell the difference, really) in the background.
(I gotta say, there appeared to be excellent trigger control and muzzle discipline from all the officers brandishing long guns – and that’s a Good Thing.)
So the manhunt continued through the parking lot for a while until everyone was satisfied that nobody was lurking about. The cops then widened the search. (A church-goer was going on about how the SFPD was “claiming” that shot(s) were fired in the area, and I was thinking, well, do you suppose the cops just all of a sudden decided to take their damn machine guns out for a midnight stroll? Oh well.)
Is this kind of police call a common occurrence? I don’t know. Since nobody got injured, apparently, it’s not something likely to make the papers or SFist.com but at the time it seemed like a war was going on.
The block of Eddy shown above was the very one where District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi was planting shrubbery on Saturday (and actually the photo above shows some of the new plants).
You can’t say that the government is ignoring this particular block of San Francisco, that’s for sure.
Speaking of which, here’s Eddy and Divisadero pre-Redevelopment-era, from 1947:
No bike lanes of course, but no ugly medians either.
And a streetcar, don’t forget the streetcar.
For all I know, this is just another day in the Western A, but it seemed like a big deal at the time. If there were reports of shots being fired on my block, I wouldn’t mind a massive response from the SFPD. Just saying.
[UPDATE: EveryBlock has the story, or at least a few details…]
Call received on August 12, 2009. Result: Appended call
1200 block of Pierce St. Gun-shot detector
Call received on August 12, 2009. Result: Unknown
Pierce St. and Ellis St. Shots fired
Call received on August 12, 2009. Result: Appended call
1100 block of Pierce St. Gun-shot detector
Call received on August 12, 2009. Result: Assignment handled
*Not really a machine gun, but a kissing cousin of an M-16 assault rifle.