D-I-V-O-R-C-E: GM Calls it Quits with Toyota, NUMMI

June 29, 2009

General Motors is washing its hands of the joint venture it operates with Toyota in California--the NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif., where the companies teamed to build the Pontiac Vibe, and where Toyota builds the Tacoma pickup and Corolla sedan.

We've been telling you for months that GM probably has more money to make selling off its NUMMI factory in the San Francisco area, than it does in going ahead with another joint-venture with Toyota. That sentiment probably lingers at GM today, as the company confirmed it will put the NUMMI plant into the "old GM" and ostensibly, will sell it off as it sells other pieces of its empire.

That's once the plant stops building the 2009 Pontiac Vibe and once Toyota can find another place to build the Tacoma pickup and Corolla sedan, which are built in the plant. GM had owned the plant before it signed its joint venture with Toyota, but the ownership structure today, and the ownership of the real estate itself, isn't clear (we're awaiting word from GM PR).

A sale of the plant could mean a long wind-out as Toyota shuffles production around the U.S. A likely scenario could see the Tacoma and Corolla moving to Toyota's unoccupied plant in northeastern Mississippi, which had been built for the Highlander SUV, then was to build the 2010 Toyota Prius, but now sits mothballed, with the building enclosed but no tooling installed.

In a statement, GM said it's not ruling out future cooperation. "We have enjoyed a very positive and beneficial partnership with Toyota for the past 25 years, and we remain open to future opportunities of mutual interest,” the company said in a release.

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