As part of its bankruptcy restructuring, GM has announced that it will shed its 50% stake in New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated (Nummi). The plant, co-owned by Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors currently manufactures Toyota’s Corolla and Tacoma models, and the Pontiac Vibe for GM.
While this particular venture is set to expire in August with the end of the production of the Pontiac Vibe, this may not be the end of what is now a 25-year-old mutually beneficial relationship between the top two automakers. According to sources close to the project, Akio Toyoda and Fritz Henderson, respectively the Toyota and GM executives plan to meet in Detroit in August to discuss future possibilities. One option reported to be on the table is a GM branded version of the Toyota Prius. Toyota is considering using the NUMMI plant to produce the Prius, after it announced that it would cease construction on its $1.3 billion Blue Springs, Mississippi plant.
Though officially unconfirmed by both automakers, these rumors come at a time when GM is in desperate need of hybrid models. Currently, GM has 8 hybrids in its lineup; 2 of which belong to the Saturn brand which has been sold to Penske Automotive Group; and 5 of the remaining six being trucks, with the hybrid Chevy Malibu being the lone remaining hybrid car. Along with the plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt next year, GM plans to have 14 hybrids in their lineup by 2012.
Of the rumored plan, Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics said, “Toyota Is not normally in the practice of giving away the crown jewels”, and that it would probably not make sense for them to put a hybrid model in NUMMI.
– By: Stephen Calogera