Friday, April 3, 2015

Toyota Ain't Coming To The Greensboro-Randolph Megasite

From the Wall Street Journal:

"Toyota to Resume Plant Building After Three-Year Hiatus

Factories in Mexico, China to Cost Around $1.25 Billion



April 3, 2015 3:33 a.m. ET
NAGOYA, Japan—Toyota Motor Corp. is set to start building plants again following a three-year freeze, spending around $1.25 billion on factories in Mexico and China, people familiar with the matter said Friday.
The plants are likely to start operating around 2018 or 2019 and will expand Toyota’s production capacity by several hundred thousands of vehicles, the people said. An official decision is expected to be made later this month, they said.
The world’s best-selling auto maker is finally shifting into expansion mode after a period of caution during which President Akio Toyodacalled for an overhaul of manufacturing lines.
Over the last several years, Toyota has been developing new manufacturing equipment and engineering technology that can be used to shrink the size of new plants and make some existing plants more efficient. The auto maker recently said it can cut initial plant investment by 40% compared with 2008 levels.
“We are gradually starting to witness the next stage for new plants,” Mr. Toyoda told investors last month. He said the company had to make a “sweeping change” to “make our plants competitive, instead of merely pursuing volume."
Toyota aggressively built new plants in the early and mid-2000s, leaving it with excess capacity and high fixed costs after the global financial crisis. It hasn’t made a major investment in new factories since 2012, when it announced a new plant in Thailand.
“We truly suffered. We rapidly expanded production, but there was no time for workers to think,” Mitsuru Kawai, a senior managing officer at Toyota, told reporters on Friday in Nagoya, central Japan.
While Toyota froze its investments—a move it has called “a willful pause”—rivals including Volkswagen AG have expanded capacity to meet growing demand. Mexico has developed into an auto manufacturing hub that exports cars to the U.S., while China is the world’s biggest auto market.
“In China, the European and U.S. auto makers like General Motors are leading,” Tetsuo Ogawa, one of Toyota’s managing officers leading the China business, told reporters Friday. He said Toyota holds a 5% to 6% share in the market and is putting priority on quality over sales growth.
The Chinese auto market continues to grow, though the pace of gains is expected to slow this year. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said it expected passenger-vehicle sales to rise 8% to 21.3 million vehicles this year, compared with 9.9% growth in 2014 and a 16% increase in 2013. Toyota said last year that it was aiming to double sales in China to around two million vehicles.
Toyota has been working on manufacturing lines that can be quickly adjusted in several hours or less to respond to changes in demand for various models. It has also developed more-efficient laser welding machines and press equipment that helps shorten lines. The new technology is expected to be introduced at the new plants as well as some existing factories.
At the Myochi plant in central Japan, where Toyota makes power train-related parts and other components, one section has shrunk to 12 meters from 27 meters, Mr. Kawai said.
Toyota has said it plans to manufacture 10.21 million vehicles in 2015 and sell 10.15 million vehicles, figures that include group companies Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd.
Toyota became the first auto maker world-wide to make and sell more than 10 million vehicles a year. But some analysts say Volkswagen, which has been aggressively expanding sales, could surpass the Japanese auto maker soon."
 And rumors abound as to why David Powell of the Piedmont Triad Partnership is leaving town.