Toyota may build Prius at NUMMI

June 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc.) auto plant in Fremont will soon make the decision on whether or not they will produce Toyota's Prius hybrid. For months the future of the plant -- a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors -- has been uncertain. Many wonder what a NUMMI-made Prius will mean for the Bay Area economy.

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The news could be a dream come true for more than 4,000 NUMMI employees. There is word that the 25-year-old plant will be re-tooled to make the country's top-selling hybrid -- the Toyota Prius.

"Not only would NUMMI be revived and strengthened as an employer, but they'd be building some of the greenest cars in the United States and in California's market, the most popular car on the market," says Carl Guardino with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

The union and NUMNI weren't talking on Wednesday night, but ABC7 learned NUMMI has invited union leaders to a special meeting on Thursday morning.

Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman says the uncertainty of jobs and the plant's future would be over.

"It assures a lot of jobs, maybe create some new jobs, and you know, certainly brings with it some guarantee that they're going to be here providing jobs for a while," says Mayor Wasserman.

NUMMI makes the Pontiac Vibe in Fremont for G.M. and makes the Corolla and Tacoma pick-up for Toyota. However, Pontiac is going away under G.M.'s restructuring plan. Workers have had their hours cut, reflecting the drop in auto sales.

By contrast, the 2010 Prius is Toyota's top-seller and Prius production would require a major re-tooling of the plant. Key components will be shipped in from Japan, keeping the Port of Oakland busy and a network of local suppliers will also benefit.

"NUMMI estimates that for every job at its facility, and they have thousands of jobs, it's five or six more jobs in supplies and parts and related activities," says Guardino.

If the deal becomes official, it will be a real blow for Mississippi where the plant was going to be located and a real boon for California and especially for Silicon Valley.

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