California’s U.S. Senators, joined by much of the Bay Area’s House delegation, wrote to Toyota today to forestall closure of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, but apparently it’s too little, too late.
NUMMI is a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota; GM announced last month it will withdraw, and Toyota has been considering doing the same. The plant’s closure would cost 4,500 California jobs directly, and an estimated 35,000 or more indirectly.
The lawmakers wrote to Toyota Corp. President Akio Toyoda to emphasize NUMMI’s importance to California’s economy and to offer to work with Toyota to keep the plant open. Also, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., reports she recently spoke on the phone with Toyota Motor America President Yoshimi Inaba about her willingness to help find solutions to keep the plant in operation’ other California lawmakers have talked to company officials as well.
But even as the lawmakers announced their effort, media began reporting Toyota’s decision to pull out of the venture and close the plant.
UPDATE @ 5:11 P.M.: Never say die, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office insists. The governor has talked with and written to the Toyota execs, too, and has formed a “Red Team” of stakeholders to work on keeping the plant open. “The Schwarzenegger Administration is actively engaged with NUMMI’s partners, Toyota, federal officials, local officials, labor, suppliers and other stakeholders to work together to ensure the future success of the facility,” David Crane, the Governor’s special advisor for jobs and economic growth, said in a release. “Our office will continue to respect Toyota’s wishes to keep discussions private as we work together to determine the best path for ensuring NUMMI’s continued operations in Fremont.”
See the letter, after the jump…
July 23, 2009
Mr. Akio Toyoda
Toyota-shi, Aichi 471
Dear Mr. Toyoda:
We are writing to express our sincere interest regarding the future of New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., (NUMMI) a General Motors-Toyota joint venture from which General Motors (GM) has announced that it will withdraw. We are greatly concerned that GM’s decision creates uncertainty about NUMMI’s future. We are eager to see that all interested parties come to the table to arrive at a solution that will secure NUMMI’s future.
We have followed the NUMMI experiment since it began in 1984, when one of your predecessors, Shoichiro Toyoda, brought the efficiency of the Toyota Production System, a model of lean manufacturing, to the San Francisco Bay area. We watched with great pride as the Japanese management and production methods – under the leadership of Tatsuro Toyoda – succeeded, as the plant went from one shift to three, and as it emerged as a unique model factory that has produced a wide range of vehicles since the 1980s. We are confident that you, as a former manager at NUMMI, can appreciate its unique history and value.
NUMMI has been a great asset to both California and the United States, demonstrating that American workers can build Toyota vehicles in a win-win for both. Today NUMMI employs approximately 4,500 workers and is indirectly responsible for more than 35,000 jobs. We deeply regret the fact that General Motors has determined that it must withdraw.
With thousands of jobs at stake, many of us have spoken with Toyota executives to express our concern in recent weeks. We look forward to hearing from you about this matter, and we are eager to work together on this very important challenge.
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Barbara Boxer
Representative Pete Stark
Representative Mike Thompson
Representative Zoe Lofgren
Representative Barbara Lee
Representative Jerry McNerney
Representative Adam Schiff
Representative Jane Harman
Representative George Miller
Representative Sam Farr
Representative Bob Filner
Representative Grace Napolitano
Representative Linda Sanchez
Representative Jackie Speier
Representative Mike Honda
Representative Dennis Cardoza
Cc: Yoshimi Inaba, President of Toyota Motor America