To NUMMI or Not to NUMMI
After GM withdrew from the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI) because of its restructuring plan, approved while under bankruptcy protection, rumors spread that Toyota won't keep the unionised plant open.
Thursday, Yoshimi Inaba, the new Toyota North America chief told AFP the following: “We are looking at the viability of NUMMI. There is a likelihood that we would not buy the rest of NUMMI”.
Looking at a region with deep financial and employment related problems, Toyota's decision is made even tougher by the fact that it already has a new and empty plant ready for operations in Mississippi.
The United Auto Workers union is currently in talks with Toyota about keeping NUMMI open, but information about the state of the negotiations aren't available for the time being.
“There are a number of difficult and complex issues that we need to address before making any final decisions with respect to NUMMI and this process will take more time", Yoshimi Inaba said in a meeting with reporters in Detroit. “We would hate to make a painful decision”, added Inaba.
Toyota is already struggling with its own stock and excessive production problems, so a decision to keep NUMMI open is regarded as unlikely.
In the meantime, seventeen members of California's congress delegation wrote and sent an open letter to Toyota's President, Akio Toyoda. In the letter sent on Thursday, they urge him to keep NUMMI open.
"We look forward to hearing from you about this matter, and we look forward to working together on this very important challenge."
With NUMMI's fate still to be decided in the near future, Yoshimi Inaba firmly said it could be more than a decade before Toyota would consider opening a new plant in the United States.