Toyota says NUMMI to close in March 2010

Toyota announced earlier today it will close the NUMMI plant by March of next year. The decision, which became increasingly likely after Toyota said earlier this week it would ratchet down global production of its vehicles, will put over 4,700 unionized auto workers out of work in the Bay Area.

“I was very disappointed to hear that
Toyota has made this announcement.” state Sen. Ellen Corbett said in a statement, “I, along with other state lawmakers and the Governor’s office, have been working very hard to create a package of incentives to keep the NUMMI plant open.”

Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico of Fremont undaunted by the news expressed hope in keeping the last auto plant in the Western United States open when he told The New York Times, “There are great costs in shutting down a plant and moving to a different location, and we think there are still some cards to be played.”

The economic impact to area could be devastating. According to estimates reported by the Los Angeles Times 30,000 jobs which depend on NUMMI could be cut and over 1,000 companies concentrated in Alameda County will be affected.

In many ways, the death of NUMMI evokes similar times that eventually led to its unique cooperation between competing car companies. The crippling recession of 1981-82 led General Motors to close the sprawling auto plant leading to its rebirth two years later as way for GM to learn more efficient Japanese manufacturing models and allow Toyota to experiment with its operations in North America. Corbett, in her statement, hopes to attract another auto manufacturer if all possibilities with Toyota are exhausted. She estimates over 5,000 workers in her district will be affected by the closure.