In an interview at Toyota’s Washington office, chairman and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, Yoshimi Inaba, officially admitted something that car enthusiasts have been saying for years, Toyota’s are boring, soulless appliances.
Well, he didn’t quite say that, but close enough.
Inaba spent his Monday doing one of his favorite things, admitting to a room full of reporters that Toyota is no longer profitable in America and that Toyota vehicles had often lacked “passion.”
“Toyota is a good car, but not exciting. Those are the comments we usually (or) always get,” Inaba said.
Inaba acknowledged that Toyota’s cars must be “more exciting, more nimble.”
Toyota’s sales have dropped 38 percent in the first six months of the year; U.S. industry sales overall have dropped 35 percent in the first half of the year. Toyota is currently reviewing its entire North American operation. Among the issues on the table are two U.S. Toyota factories, the 25-year-old New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. assembly plant in Fremont, Ca. and the recently completed Mississippi plant.
The New United Motor Manufacturing plant employs 4,700 people and, until recently, was a joint venture with GM, who backed out of the deal during its bankruptcy shitstorm.
“That put us in a very difficult position,” Inaba said. “We are carefully evaluating all the options.”
According to the Detroit News, Inaba refused to rule out layoffs or plant closures as a cost cutting options.
California is Toyota’s largest North American market and Inaba noted that closing that plant would probably negatively impact Toyota’s image there.
Toyota’s Mississippi plant was recently completed, structurally that is. It’s currently just like anything else Toyota has built in the past 20 years, a soulless husk waiting desperately for the breath of life. The plant is scheduled to open next year, but Toyota is currently debating whether to shelve the venture of not.