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Toyota: Indiana plant slowdown

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They're just now learning about flexible manufacturing? :duh:

James B. Treece

Automotive News

July 23, 2007 - 12:01 am

Indiana Slowdown

TOYOTA CITY, Japan - Toyota Motor Corp. President Katsuaki Watanabe isn't happy.

Toyota's truck plant in Princeton, Ind., has suffered along with some other U.S. truck plants from rising gasoline prices. Output is down notably from three years ago.

"Indiana now seems to have some surplus capacity," Watanabe told Automotive News. "The problem is that it was prepared for a fixed platform or a certain model only. That's why the plant couldn't cope with changing demand."

The Princeton plant makes the Sienna minivan, Tundra pickup and Sequoia large SUV.

The lineup doesn't include any fuel-efficient vehicles that could pick up the slack when sales of gasoline-thirsty trucks fell.

Princeton's predicament shows the need for greater production flexibility at Toyota's overseas plants. Most of those plants are devoted to a single high-volume product and its siblings. For example, Toyota's plant in Georgetown, Ky., builds the Camry and the Camry Solara.

Toyota is preparing to remake its flagship Takaoka plant in Japan into an ultraflexible facility capable of building eight models on the same line. The lessons in flexibility that it learns there should be applied overseas, too, Watanabe says.

"We should never be bound by a fixed concept, such as at Georgetown we could only produce Camry or Solara," he says.

"We should have a more flexible approach."

You may e-mail James B. Treece at jtreece@crain.com

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I rode in a friend's tundra the other day. First time. I thought it was weak and cheap. The tacoma is just a smaller version of that hunk of crap. Other than the false perception that toyota is so great, I've never understood why people buy them. A REAL full size AMERICAN pickup is much more capable and the "smaller" ride doesn't have an appreciable advantage in efficiency. Makes no sense.

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