In Japan, Toyota has plants clustered together, with a capability of building more than a half-dozen different vehicles on each line, and their most efficient plants around the world are capable of operating more than one assembly line each. But here in the United States, Toyota plants build just one or two models and are spread out all over the place. Why are they running so inefficiently stateside? Today the Wall Street Journal answers that question and the answer is something we've long believed to be Toyota's modus operandi. It appears, according to the Murdoch-targeted paper, the super-awesome number-one best automaker from the land of the rising sun's been building assembly plants in key geographic areas for maximizing political gains. That would make sense given the Toyota Production System's fanatical focus on efficiency would argue having inefficient plants geographically spread all over the place is an anathema. But that's not all they're reporting. The Journal also...
...claims ToMoCo is cutting plans on any further expansion once they get Haley Barbour's already scaled back plant operational in Tupelo, Mississippi. Among many reasons is that the Yen's doing much better now against the US greenback, so it makes sense to build more vehicles in Japan and ship them over to sell here. That includes vehicles like the Yaris which Toyota had looked at assembling in Mexico — instead, they're now thinking of continuing to make the little gas-sipper in Japan and shipping it across the pond. We don't yet know what this mean for Toyota continuing to market themselves as sort-of a US automaker, but our bet is it's got the potential to change the dynamic. Whether or not it will do so remains to be seen.
Toyota's New U.S. Plan: Stop Building Factories (sub. req.) [Wall Street Journal]
Oh What A Feeling! Toyota Overtakes GM In First-Quarter Sales; Caption This Photo: Governor Haley Barbour Digs Halfway To Memphis In The Mississippi Mud; High in Mississippi: Toyota Highlander, New Crossover to Be Built Near Tupelo [internal]