Toyota’s decision to recommence construction on its Blue Springs plant in the US state of Mississippi and shift Corolla production there from the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, California, which closed in March, is in part based on the better logistics the plant will offer.
According to an official statement by the company, the decision to produce the Corolla from next autumn means the plant can be up and running as soon as possible. It also means that almost all Corollas for the North American market will be built there.
Talking to the Wall Street Journal at the end of last week, Toyota’s chief quality officer for North America, Steve St Angelo, said that the facility had a number of advantages, including better logistics with its suppliers, the majority of which are already established close to the plant, with others now planning to locate in the area.
It was this view of better supply chain management that a move away from the NUMMI plant would bring that was mentioned by James Lentz, head of US Toyota sales, at the end of last year. As reported in Automotive Logistics News, Lentz told disgruntled workers it was the economics of having a plant in California so far away from the supplier lines that didn't make business sense for the company to continue using the Fremont plant following the departure of NUMMI partners General Motors. (Read more here)
With the majority of Toyota’s suppliers based in the Midwest, and Corolla engines built in West Virginia, the company was having to ship them across the country.
Following the closure at Fremont some production was picked up by Toyota’s plant in Cambridge, Ontario, which also makes the Corolla, as well as some assembly being carried out in Japan. This will now be moved back to the US at the new plant. Toyota recently announced that it will partner with Tesla Motors to restart production of electric vehicles in part of the NUMMI plant.
The company’s decision to designate the Mississippi plant for Corolla production rather than for the Prius was down to three factors, according to Mike Goss, spokesman for Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America.
“First, we had planned to build Prius in Mississippi but we already have enough global Prius capacity to meet demand–we need the Corolla volume here in North America,” he told Automotive Logistics News.
“Second, many of the Corolla suppliers are already located in the Midwest.
“Third, we can utilize the Corolla equipment from NUMMI,” he added.
Toyota reports that the construction of the plant is “essentially complete” with only the installation of equipment to be finished. Details fore the hiring of 2,000 workers are to be revealed later this summer.