QOTD: Automotive Cooperation Done Right?

<img data-attachment-id="1684736" data-permalink data-orig-file="https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,682" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="1992 Geo Prizm" data-image-description="

GM

” data-medium-file=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214-450×300.jpg” data-large-file=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214-610×406.jpg” class=”aligncenter wp-image-1684736 size-large” src=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214-610×406.jpg” alt width=”610″ height=”406″ srcset=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214-610×406.jpg 610w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214-75×50.jpg 75w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214-450×300.jpg 450w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214-768×512.jpg 768w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214-120×80.jpg 120w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/90125021990214.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”>In last Wednesday’s QOTD post we covered all the worst examples of automotive collaboration. Commenters racked up the examples, sharing collaboration failures even worse than the Jaguar X-Type selected for textual pillory in the post.

Today we flip it around and discuss the best outcomes of automaker cooperation.

As before, both formal joint ventures and more casual manufacturer cooperation are up for discussion. Today’s example of cooperative excellence came with length and some serious production figures.

<img data-attachment-id="1684734" data-permalink data-orig-file="https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CX5760-S-0001.jpg" data-orig-size="2100,1500" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="1988 Chevrolet Nova" data-image-description="

GM

” data-medium-file=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CX5760-S-0001-450×321.jpg” data-large-file=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CX5760-S-0001-610×436.jpg” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-1684734″ src=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CX5760-S-0001-610×436.jpg” alt width=”610″ height=”436″ srcset=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CX5760-S-0001-610×436.jpg 610w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CX5760-S-0001-75×54.jpg 75w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CX5760-S-0001-450×321.jpg 450w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CX5760-S-0001-768×549.jpg 768w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CX5760-S-0001-120×86.jpg 120w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”>Of course that’s not really a Chevrolet Nova in the photo, but rather a Toyota Corolla. The twins were the first product of the long-lived NUMMI plant. Opened in 1984, the plant was jointly owned by General Motors and Toyota. The location originally existed as General Motors Fremont Assembly, in operation between 1962 and 1982. Fremont produced a variety of vehicles including the C/K trucks, Pontiac GTO, and the Chevrolet Celebrity.

The benefits for each company were clear: General Motors wanted to learn about lean manufacturing from an expert, and Toyota wanted to establish a manufacturing location in North America while implementing their production methodology on a new continent. A secondary benefit to Toyota came from the avoidance of import restrictions, back when such things were a concern.

Cars produced at NUMMI included one generation of Nova, five generations of Corolla, two generations of Geo Prizm, the Toyota Pickup, Tacoma, and Matrix, and the Pontiac Vibe. Peak production occurred in 2006; a hefty 428,633 units.

Though the products were just fine, all was not well at NUMMI. The plant operated at about 59 percent capacity in the late Eighties, and had not made back its investment costs by 1991. GM was unable to implement the lean manufacturing techniques across their other U.S. plants. Toyota experienced higher costs at NUMMI, as it was the company’s only union plant in the country. Toyota’s manufacturing and supply chains were centralized in the Midwest, very far from Fremont. Relations were strained.

In June 2009 GM announced the joint venture’s end, as it and Toyota could not decide on a worthwhile product to produce at the location. Later that year, Toyota announced Tacoma production would shift to San Antonio, with Corolla moving to Mississippi. The last vehicle produced under the GM-Toyota ownership was a Corolla, on April Fools Day 2010. NUMMI lives on today as the Tesla Factory and tent city.

What’s your pick for best manufacturer cooperation?

[Images: GM]

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