Toyota Trucks Move to San Antonio

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Toyota Motor Corp. has confirmed it will relocate production of the Tacoma pickup from a plant in Northern California to its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in San Antonio by next summer, according to company officials and wire service reports.

The announcement came hours after the Japanese automaker ended its relationship with a joint venture plant in the San Francisco Bay area as part of an effort to reduce excess production capacity at plants around the globe and return to profitability.

As part of the plan to shift Tacoma production to San Antonio, Toyota will stop making vehicles at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUUMI) plant—its first manufacturing facility in the United States, which started in 1984 as a 50-50 business deal with General Motors — in March 2010.

San Antonio and Bexar County officials estimate 100,000 Tacomas, about 50,000 less than NUMMI is capable of producing at peak capacity, will be pumped out annually following a $100-million retooling at Toyota’s San Antonio campus.

The Tacoma line not only will diversify the plant with a second vehicle but also is expected to add as many as 1,100 new jobs to the facility over time and will rev its 21 on-site suppliers back up to capacity and employ hundreds of new workers.

The relocation will return work at the San Antonio plant—which has the capacity to build about 200,000 Tundras annually—back to two shifts for the first time since it shuttered for three months last summer to sell off excess inventory.

“This is what we wanted, a dual line to alternate with the Tundras,” said Ramiro Cavazos, the chief executive of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who played a key role in luring Toyota to the Alamo City in 2002 as the city’s economic development director. “We had thought several years ago it might be the Highlander hybrid, but this plant and its workers have the flexibility to keep jobs strong there.”

Temporary plant workers who had been laid off in San Antonio or those who applied for Tundra work and didn’t get the job could be first in line for the new positions, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Toyota would offer jobs to any of the 4,700 NUMMI workers who will be unemployed next year as a result of the plant’s closure.

Toyota’s decision to end its 25-year relationship with the NUMMI plant, which also produces the Corolla, came nearly two months after GM said it was pulling out of the joint venture. It marks the first time the Japanese automaker has moved to shutter a plant, either at home or abroad.

In San Antonio, local and state leaders rejoiced at the announcement, which will bring a much needed shot in the arm to the South Side plant.

“San Antonio is emerging as an economic powerhouse. This demonstrates the talent of the work force and the low cost of doing business in San Antonio, as well as a high level of public and private cooperation,” Mayor Julián Castro said.

Last week, city and county officials said it includes a 10-year abatements on property taxes as well as state sales tax rebates on capital investments and new machinery to retool the plant, which could cost $100 million. Additionally, Toyota could receive a $2,500 credit for every new hire from a “designated disadvantaged zone.”

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