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Big News: Toyota and Tesla to Build Cars at NUMMI


Surprising news today from California… from the WSJ. Toyota and Tesla are partnering up!

Tesla Motors Inc. said it is partnering with Toyota Motors Inc. to make electric cars at a recently shuttered auto plant in Fremont, Calif., in a deal the two companies said also involves Toyota putting $50 million into Tesla.

The cars will be made at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., known as Nummi, a joint venture between General Motors Co. and Toyota in Fremont that had closed earlier this year, Tesla officials said in a statement.

CEO Akio Toyoda said:

“By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business spirit' and take on the challenges of the future,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in a statement. Toyota said it plans to introduce electric vehicles in 2012.

I hate to be so cynical, but I think GM also expected Ross Perot and EDS to bring a venture business spirit into GM and, instead, GM had a negative impact on EDS!

It does raise the issue of culture… our friend Pete Abilla of the Shmula blog tweeted:

In the blog post he linked to (“Tesla Motors is not Toyota: A Contrast in Disrespect and Respect of People“), Pete criticized Tesla for short-term thinking and for firing employees via a blog post (or at least making them aware of the Detroit office shutdown that way).

Micki Maynard, from the NY Times, tweeted:

And we had this exchange:

To the readers — what do you think? Reactions? Predictions? Will the UAW be involved?

It will be interesting to see what happens!

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus. He is currently writing his next book, tentatively titled Measures of Success.

  1. […] I was able to tour the NUMMI factory in 2005, which I really enjoyed (see my series of blog posts here). NUMMI was, of course, a joint venture between Toyota and GM (as John Shook talked about recently at the Lean Startup conference). NUMMI was shuttered a few years back when GM pulled out of the partnership, but the building was purchased and re-opened by Tesla. […]

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