Daily Edition: Mar. 14, 2006

March 12, 2006

Toyota Taking Half of Lafayette

Toyota moved ahead Monday with the latest step in its bold expansion plans by announcing plans to build the Toyota Camry at the underutilized plant in Lafayette, Ind., that belongs to Toyota's new partner Fuji Heavy Industries.

Word that Toyota was thinking about building Camrys in the Subaru plant began circulating soon after the Japanese auto giant snapped up an 8.7-percent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries after General Motors Corp. sold off its 20-percent share in Fuji.

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels said the project would create about 1000 jobs at the Lafayette plant by the time production begins in the spring of 2007. Toyota plans to spend about $230 million at the plant to install Camry tooling capable of building about 100,000 vehicles annually under an agreement signed by Fuji and Toyota.

"We are pleased to further boost localization by moving Camry production in Japan to the United States. It's a win-win situation for Toyota and SIA, and for our suppliers whose businesses will grow," said Gary Convis, president of TMMK. "This will be the same high quality and reliability that have made Camry the best-selling U.S. car. We have the highest confidence in SIA to help us continue to meet our customers' expectations," he added.

Finished in 1990, the Subaru plant has not been fully utilized since Subaru's first partner in the venture, Isuzu, backed out of the venture. The plant currently builds the Subaru B9 Tribeca, Outback, Legacy, and Baja. SIA produced about 120,000 Subarus in 2005. The Subaru B9 Tribeca will move to the production line where the Outback, Legacy, and Baja are currently built to make room for the Camry, SIA officials said.

The new Camry production in Indiana will replace imported Camrys from Japan; Toyota will be able to build more Priuses in Japan as a result. With this additional capacity and other expansions underway, Toyota will have an annual production capacity in North America of about two million cars and trucks by 2008.

A new report from CSM Forecasting of Novi, Mich., said Asian carmakers are continuing to expand in the U.S. while GM and Ford are cutting back. The shift in the production base will continue as the big American brands continue to cut production. "This trend will continue over the next few years as we see a realignment of capacity between the traditional Big Three, GM and Ford in particular, and foreign automakers looking to localize output based on strong sales and as a currency hedge," the report said. Toyota produces ten vehicles in North America. -Joe Szczesny

Daily Edition: Mar. 13, 2006 by TCC Team (3/13/2006)
Kia picks Georgia for plant, Toyota building with Subaru.


DC Adds Second Shift in Illinois

DaimlerChrysler announced on Monday that it was launching a second production shift at its assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill., starting this week. Production of the 2007 Dodge Caliber began in January 2006, while production of the new 2007 Jeep Compass at the plant will begin in May. The Belvidere plant is the first in the Chrysler Group's system to launch a new flexible manufacturing process that can build derivative models on a single production line in groups as small as one. The second shift will double the plant's current production capacity. -Joe Szczesny

Zetsche Focuses on Bribery Scandal by Joseph Szczesny (3/13/2006)
New CEO sets the Schrempp era aside.


Great Drives: SkipBarberRacingSchool

So you know how do drive, huh? I mean really drive? You've done a few track days and you feel pretty good out there. Perhaps you've even taken a few driving courses and maybe you're wondering how much else there is to learn.

If that's the case you sound a lot like me, chock full of misplaced bravado (not to mention a little quiet skepticism) prior to taking Skip Barber's new HighPerformanceDrivingSchool at Laguna Seca Raceway in California. I had heard a lot about Skip Barber's driving schools and most of the people who had taken the course raved about it. Still, I couldn't help but wonder: How good can it really be?

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