Co. is to blame for the planned closing of the New United Motor Mfg. Inc. joint venture plant in Fremont, CA, Motor Corp.'s top U.S. executive says, indicating there is little chance the shutdown decision will be reversed.
Both the United Auto Workers and California politicians have been pushing forto keep the California plant open.
“Toyota is not shutting down NUMMI,” Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. CEO James Lentz says in testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “NUMMI is shutting down NUMMI.
“It wasabandoning NUMMI that (did this). That's the truth.”
Lentz's comments came in questioning from Jerry McNerney, D-CA, who told the executive Toyota could improve its public-relations standing in California in light of its widespread vehicle recall campaigns by reversing a decision to shutter NUMMI this month.
But Lentz says there's too much capacity in the U.S. given the market's collapse over the past two years.
“It's not something you take lightly, closing a plant,” he says. “We're going to put money in there to help those workers transition. I just wish our partner of 25 years would step up and do the same.”
Meanwhile, United Auto Workers union Vice President Bob King calls the decision to close the plant one in a string of poor decisions of late by the Japanese auto maker.
“Toyota has lost its way,” says King, who likely will succeed Ron Gettelfinger later this year as U.S. labor's top-ranking official. “Horrendous management decision.”
The irony, King says, is in closing NUMMI, Toyota “turns its back” on the very market on which it built its business in the U.S. and the guarantee of lifetime employment that lured workers.
Also rankling the 37-year UAW veteran is that in closing NUMMI, the auto maker is shuttering its only unionized North American facility ahead of opening a new assembly plant in right-to-work Blue Springs, MS.
As part of GM's Chapter 11 restructuring plan that eliminated four of its eight brands, the Detroit auto maker killed the NUMMI-built Pontiac Vibe. GM wholly owned the Fremont plant before the creation of NUMMI in 1984.