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Radio Program about NUMMI - worth a listen


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NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing, Incorporated) is / was a joint venture between GM and Toyota in Fremont, CA. This American Life did a radio story on March 26, 2010, that discusses NUMMI's history in fascinating detail. Here's how This American Life describes the show:


A car plant in Fremont California that might have saved the U.S. car industry. In 1984, General Motors and Toyota opened NUMMI as a joint venture. Toyota showed GM the secrets of its production system: how it made cars of much higher quality and much lower cost than GM achieved. Frank Langfitt explains why GM didn't learn the lessons – until it was too late.

Audio Link here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/sites/all/play_music/play_full.php?play=403&podcast=1

I found this story fascinating.

Gary S.

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Ok I did hear the show today. Anybody else? Pretty enlightening, and some interesting tidbits. Like a GM worker from way back saying how cars would make it through the production line with the ENGINES IN BACKWARDS. Sound like their could have been some quality control issues there?

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So true,Bruce, was that Mr Deming? I did miss a section of the show. Why exactly was NUMMI closing? Because of the recession in general?

The recession was the final straw. The benefits to GM & Toyota had essentially been used up.

NUMMI was originally producing Corollas & Prizms. GM was putting a California plant back into use. Toyota was getting a foothold in US production, and GM wanted to learn from the Toyota way.

GM from what I read was never able to put the quality & production practices of Toyota in place at its other facilities. (Isn't that a big surprise?) The Prizm faded away in the 90s, so the only "GM" product made at the plant was the Pontiac Vibe. Since GM wasn't planning on moving any of the Pontiac lines into its "surviving" brands, it wasn't using the production capacity of the Fremont plant. Toyota has alternate facilities for its Corolla & Tundra lines, including what I think is an underutilized production facility in the South. What is the value in keeping a California plant open when you have spare capacity in a more industry-friendly region.

IMHO, the recession only helped to drive the final nail into the coffin.

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