Two weeks ago, Mark Hogan, formerly at GM, and now freshly minted board member at Toyota, told Reuters that Toyota absolutely need more and bigger plants in Mexico. Days later, Bloomberg saw Toyota execs “scouting the country for possible factory sites.” A minor media frenzy ensued, touting the low labor costs and favorable trade accords south of the border. Yesterday, the story was shot down.
A new Reuters story says that the expansion south of the border was put on ice. Whoever cooked it up should have asked Toyota’s boss first.
Quarter after quarter, Toyota told media and analysts to forget any new factories before 2016. When reporters asked about Mexico at the last quarterlies on August 6, they were told there are no plans. When reporters probed, saying that executives in the U.S. said otherwise, the answer was that those executives better check with the home office first.
For nearly a year, Toyota has been pushing a basically zero growth strategy. While it sometimes feels as if Volkswagen and GM launch more plants than cars, Toyota steadfastly maintains its “no new plants before 2016” mantra, and they do it with a knowing smile. When talking to his execs, Akio Toyoda talks about stairs one must climb up to get higher, but a stair has the occasional landing where one can catch a breath. This where Toyota is now.