released on January 2005


Tatsuro Toyoda,
First President of NUMMI

“Toyota is very proud to build quality products with GM (General Motors Corporation) here at NUMMI*. Without GM’s partnership . . . Toyota would not be where it is today,” said TMC (Toyota Motor Corporation) President Fujio Cho in marking NUMMI’s 20th anniversary.

TMC had long seen production in North America as vital to Toyota’s success. The early 1980s saw demand for compact cars grow and competition among manufacturers intensify. This constituted an impetus to the key Japanese manufacturers to establish strategic alliances and overseas operations. In 1979, Toyota began studying the possibility of such a plan and approached Ford Motor Company as a possible partner. After failing to set up a satisfactory plan with Ford, however, TMC turned to GM and reached an agreement in February 1983.

The deal would benefit both sides. Toyota could gain production expertise from GM and comply with proposed local content laws. It also could provide something in return: Japanese manufacturing know-how, especially for compact vehicles.

Then-Chairman Eiji Toyoda summed up TMC’s view of NUMMI in April 1983 when he said, “the foundations of the development of the world economy rest on a spirit of ‘cooperation and competition.'” Of course, there were many challenges on the way; but, thanks to their hard work and goodwill, Toyota and GM succeeded, and the first Chevrolet Nova rolled off the assembly line in December 1984.

At NUMMI’s opening ceremony in April 1985, NUMMI’s then-President Tatsuro Toyoda thanked everyone — including the 1, 200 employees — for bringing the project to fruition. “We are building cars to world-class quality standards,” he said.

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    A NUMMI intern training in Japan

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    NUMMI opening ceremony, April 1985

GM launched sales of the Nova in June 1985, and the rest is history. NUMMI now produces 370,000 vehicles annually, including the Corolla sedan and Pontiac Vibe. It also employs more than 5,600 people.

“Maintain quality through teamwork” has been central to NUMMI’s success over 20 years. A real turning point for Toyota at the time, NUMMI represents the beginning of Toyota’s new international business plan and has been an excellent rehearsal for the IMV (innovative international multipurpose vehicle) project.

Today Toyota and NUMMI “have much to celebrate and much to look forward to . . . in the future,” Cho said.

NUMMI’s first Nova and the people who made it happen, December 1984

* New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., located in Fremont, California.

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