Part of the aftermath of GM’s implosion is that Toyota is left holding the bag on the NUMMI joint venture. The plant primarily built vehicles for GM (the Pontiac Vibe), but was essentially managed by Toyota as a Toyota operation. A lot has been written about GM’s failure to truly learn from this opportunity, but that is now in the past.
What is in the present, and the future, is the fate of the plant itself. Toyota does not need this factory. And if Toyota were being run the way U.S. automakers are, there wouldn’t have been a decision. As soon as GM backed out, the layoff notices would have been issued, and the gates locked. Period. Politically, that probably would have been the best move for Toyota. Let GM make the decision, and reluctantly go along. They had a great opportunity to do that last week when the press was preoccupied with the death of a high-profile celebrity.
But they didn’t do that. Enough time has passed that the plant is now 100% associated with Toyota. (Remember, in our 24/7 news cycle, a week or two is an eternity.)
So now they are stuck. The fate of this plant is Toyota’s and Toyota’s alone.
Here is a thought.
GM is not the only auto manufacturer with something to learn from Toyota, and almost anyone could (if they set about doing it right) learn more than GM ever did. Maybe someone can step up and seize what is, in my mind, a golden opportunity.