Mississippi May Be Out For New Prius Factory; Miss. Newspaper Says "Uh uh!"

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by Danny, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. Danny

    Danny Admin/Founder
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    Motortrend, via Automotive News, reported yesterday that Toyota is mulling moving future US production of the Prius from the currently built, but empty, Tupelo, Mississippi plant. Here is MT's take: "Steve St. Angelo, the senior vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc., mentioned that although plans currently call for the plant to manufacture the successful eco-friendly model, the automaker is looking to see if producing another vehicle at the location is more ideal. The $1.3-billion plant opened in 2006 and was initially slated to build Highlander crossovers. Last summer, the plant was delayed and reassigned to produce the third-generation Prius. But everything was once again thrown into the air when the plant was further postponed last December due to the slumping automotive sales sector. St. Angelo mentioned at a news conference that Toyota officials are weighing various scenarios in regards to what is best suited to be built in North America. One possible outcome has the Prius being built somewhere else in the region, while a new model takes its place in Tupelo." This report of course sent the state of Mississippi into a tizzy (ok, actually no one I know in MS even knew about the plant), and this morning Jackson's Clarion-Ledger newspaper is reporting that both Mississippi and Toyota officials say that Mr. St. Angelo was incorrect in his statements. "There are no plans to change, and we are still committed to opening as soon as market conditions allow," Toyota spokeswoman Barbara McDaniel said. "The Prius is the product they will produce when they start," said David Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Community Development Foundation in Tupelo. Buddy Bynum, communications director for Gov. Haley Barbour, said the story in Automotive News "was full of obviously inaccurate information, such as the statement that Toyota employees hired at Blue Springs have been sent somewhere else; according to local managers, those employees are still at Blue Springs." Keep in mind that if Toyota announced TODAY that they were going to open the Tupelo plant, it would be around 2011 when we would see the first Prius roll off the production line. If Toyota announced that they were going to build the Prius at another, yet to be built plant, we're most likely looking at 2015. MotorTrend - Toyota Mulls New North American Locale For Prius Production; Tupelo May Be Out The Clarion-Ledger - Prius Still Planned For Blue Springs
     
  2. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    One of the reasons I'm not organizing a Georgetown plant tour is hoping that Prius production would start in Mississippi. If Georgetown picks up Prius production, my plans could change.

    To the best of my knowledge, the only place that has a plant tour showing hybrids being made is Georgetown KY. I understand the Ford plant building Escapes in Kansas City has no tours and the former GM White Plains transmission plant for two-modes is also closed to public tours. Then the Ford Fusion plant is in Mexico?

    So if you want to see how a hybrid is made, Georgetown KY is your only choice. I've been through it three times and every time learn something new. If you get a chance, do see it:
    [​IMG]
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    Bob Wilson
     
  3. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Hey! There's some PCD folks in that group.

    .
     
  4. Hytec

    Hytec New Member

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    Many of us in Mississippi are, and have been for some time, aware of the Toyota plant near Tupelo. Furthermore, we were aware of Toyota's decision to delay installation of the assembly line equipment in the completed buildings before it was picked up by the media. Note that I say "assembly line equipment" as the brick and mortar facility, which Toyota owns, was completed mid-summer last year.

    Consequently, those of us in Mississippi who are interested in this feel that Gov. Barbour's comments are more credible than the apparent mis- and out of context quotes of the Toyota Vice President.

    Personally, I think once folks scarf up the highly discounted Chrysler and GM products from closed dealerships, and the cost of oil rises from $70/bbl, the Prius once more will become the preferred car. If so, then Toyota will decide to install the assembly line and start producing the Prius in Misissippi.
     
  5. echase

    echase New Member

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    I for one am happy that my ultra-high-tech auto was made in Japan, rather than the deep south. It's a sad stereotype, but a marketing reality. I hope Toyota brings extremely high quality control standards when Prius production moves to North America... this would help kill that (hopefully unjustified) perception.
     
  6. Prius 06

    Prius 06 Member

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    I feel the exact same way with my Prius and Impreza. Actually I bought a Impreza instead of a Legacy for this reason. It's sad to say but it's true.
     
  7. Hytec

    Hytec New Member

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    Have there been any statistics published that differentiate quality and maintenance issues of European and Asian models assembled in the Southeast US versus the same or similar models assembled in their corporate home countries, or in other areas of North America?
     
  8. 1SMUGLEX

    1SMUGLEX I love the smug!

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    Nissan had a tremendous quality disaster with their Mississippi plant for the Titan/Armada/QX56. They were some of the worst quality vehicles around and the Infiniti QX killed that lineups quality records. It was so bad NIssan sent a team of top engineers to the MS plant to study what was the issue. One of the conclusions was plant workers were wearing too much jewerly.
    NIssan has now promised to move the next generation QX56 to Japan and it will be built off the Nissan Petrol and not the Armada anymore.
     
  9. jburns

    jburns Senior Senior Member

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    A Mississippi hybrid = wood/mule power. :banplease:
     
  10. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Being built in Mississippi is definitely not a selling point for me. Technology, quality, reliability, etc. are not consistent descriptors of the state's regressive bent. I've stopped in the Tupelo region enough times that I've learned not to expect much from the area.

    Haley Barbour credible? If he claimed the sky was blue I would be highly skeptical.
     
  11. Danny

    Danny Admin/Founder
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    Take a look at Hyundai's quality records since they opened their plant in Alabama. The Sonata and Santa Fe are 2 of Hyundai's top models and the Sonata beat out the Accord and Camry in AutoPacific's research for top "Premium Mid-Size Car".
     
  12. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    With the right quality systems in place even American labour can be used to build a quality product. I hope I'm right.
     
  13. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    American labour has not been the problem in most situations (usually it is the corporate mindset at the heart of the problem.) But the Deep South takes a more laid back attitude and has more educational challenges to deal with. It can be somewhat demoralizing when you live there. People put up with levels of "service" and quality there on a regular basis that would be unacceptable most places in this country. It's pretty noticeable on a long drive from the central Gulf Coast to the Upper Midwest.
     
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