Is Toyota the Next Great Michigan Carmaker?

Posted Wednesday, Jun 24, 2015 by nhtwpprod

Toyota made an announcement more than a year ago that it planned to move the headquarters for the North American sector from Torrance, California to Plano, Texas. So far all that has happened in that area is that a bunch of employees are still wondering about the fate of their jobs. Los Angeles car dealerships are wondering where their next vehicles may arrive from, and consumers are wondering if that announcement was just a lot of hot air. In the meantime, an event that didn’t receive nearly as much press as the N.A. headquarters announcement has been making progress.

Groundbreaking Toyota

Toyota has a North American research and development center in Michigan and recently broke ground for an expansion. This $126 million expansion includes construction of two new buildings, and upgrades to the Toyota Technical Center. This huge project is taking place close to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it will create a prototype facility for vehicle development and a supplier center for collaboration between purchasing, engineering design, and supply partners.

Another aspect of this expansion is the powertrain development facility, which will enable the North American leg of Toyota to develop engines and automatic transmissions, right here in America. The goal of expansion is to further unify the North American operations of Toyota. Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz indicated that the headquarters move to Plano is still going to happen, and that the investments being made in Michigan will improve their engineering, development, and procurement capabilities to improve quality and introduce new technologies for greater value in Toyota vehicles.

Transferring Employees

More than 300 employees are being relocated from Kentucky and California to work the new expansion areas. What has triggered this huge change in Toyota and led the company to become more centrally based in North America? The 2010-2011 recall fiasco was a major contributor. In that case, the Japanese-centric team was overwhelmed, and did not respond to safety and quality issues plaguing North American vehicles in a timely manner. Having more resources in the United States will help Toyota not only develop better technologies and vehicles for use here in the U.S., but also to be more “hands on” when an issue does arise. The governmental red tape involved in having a Japanese-based company deal with major mechanical failures and safety issues in our country is a problem that can be alleviated. The presence of the main North American headquarters, as well as the technical center in the U.S., will take away many logistical issues that Toyota has faced in the past.

Once the expansion is completed, Los Angeles car dealerships, consumers, and Toyota workers will have a better idea of what to expect in the future. While there is still no major progress happening with the California-to-Texas move, the Michigan leg of Toyota is making great strides. Visit North Hollywood Toyota and see what new models and new technologies are coming from Toyota with the introduction of the 2016 model year vehicles later this summer!