DETROIT â€“ Chin up, Detroit.
Thatâ€™s the message fromMotor North America Inc. President Jim Press, who says better days are ahead for the auto industry here.
Calling this the â€śyear of turmoilâ€ť because of all the plant closings, job cuts and wrangling over health-care and labor costs atCorp., Motor Co. and Group, Press says Detroit still is and will remain the â€śepicenter of the auto industry.â€ť
â€śThis is a brief moment in history that will give us a stronger foundation,â€ť he says of the restructuring under way. â€śThe opportunities for growth are many.â€ť
Press, recently named as the first American toMotor Corp.â€™s board of directors and singled out here by the Automotive Industry Action Group as its executive of the year, says industry insiders should ignore todayâ€™s depressing headlines and concentrate on the long-term objectives and global opportunities that are emerging for their companies.
â€śRight now, weâ€™re working through a situation of excess supply,â€ť he says. â€śItâ€™s a tough period. But you have to avoid short-term thinking. There are long-term, global opportunities ahead.â€ť
Detroit should focus on a technological path back to good health and seek to solve issues surrounding vehicle safety, driver distraction and traffic congestion, Press says.
â€śAll these things will be solved through innovation and technology,â€ť he says. â€śAnd the foundation will be right here in Detroit. Detroit will emerge from this in a strong position.â€ť
Press says he is encouraged by the restructuring moves at GM andand the potential sale of by DaimlerChrysler AG.
â€śThe paradigm is changing,â€ť he says. â€śSolutions are being confronted. The issues have been there, but whoâ€™s done something? Weâ€™re finally getting down to addressing the root causes (of the industryâ€™s problems).
â€śDetroit just has to go through the process of entering the global age.â€ť
Press says Toyota, which will break ground today on a new assembly plant in Mississippi and launch Camry production at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. on Friday, hasnâ€™t ruled out Michigan as a site for any future manufacturing facilities.
â€śEvery time we look at a new plant, itâ€™s a blank sheet of paper,â€ť he says. â€śMichiganâ€™s been looked at before and we will continue to look at it. You canâ€™t have 10 first-place finishers.â€ť
Press would not speculate as to if and when Toyota would need to add more North American manufacturing capacity.
â€śWe have 600,000 units (of vehicle assembly capacity) under construction right now,â€ť he says, citing its new Tundra plant in San Antonio and the Mississippi and Indiana operations. â€śWeâ€™ve got other projects on the table that need to get finalized. Itâ€™s too early to talk about whatâ€™s next.â€ť