New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) was an automobile
manufacturing company in Fremont, California, jointly owned by General
Toyota that opened in 1984 and closed in 2010. On October
27, 2010, its former plant reopened as a 100% Tesla Motors-owned
production facility, known as the Tesla Factory. The plant
is located in the East Industrial area of Fremont between Interstate
880 and Interstate 680.
4 Models produced
5.3 Events as closure approached
5.4 Alternatives to closure
5.6 After NUMMI: use of the land and facility
6 See also
8 External links
NUMMI plant in Fremont, California
NUMMI was established at the former
General Motors Fremont Assembly
site that closed in 1982; it had been a GM plant since
1962. GM and
Toyota reopened the factory as a joint venture in 1984 to
manufacture vehicles to be sold under both brands.
GM saw the joint venture as an opportunity to learn about lean
manufacturing from the Japanese company, while
Toyota gained its first
manufacturing base in North America and a chance to implement its
Taylorism-inspired[dubious – discuss] production
system in an American labor
possible import restrictions. GM employees went to Toyota's
Takaoka plant in Japan and improved production at
NUMMI, Spring Hill and other
sites, particularly after Jack Smith spread the
Up to May 2010,
NUMMI built an average of 6000 vehicles a week, or
nearly eight million cars and trucks since opening in
1984. In 1997,
NUMMI produced 357,809 cars and
trucks, peaking at 428,633 units in 2006.
GM pulled out of the venture in June 2009 due to its bankruptcy, and
several months later
Toyota announced plans to pull out by March
2010. The closure was opposed by city
officials, including Fremont Mayor
Bob Wasserman, who lobbied to keep
NUMMI in the city.
However, at 9:40am on April 1, 2010, the plant produced its last car,
Toyota Corolla S believed to be destined for a museum in
Japan. Production of Corollas in North
America moved to
Manufacturing Mississippi's assembly
Blue Springs, Mississippi
Blue Springs, Mississippi and
Toyota Motor Manufacturing
Canada's 'North' assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario.
On May 20, 2010, it was announced that
Tesla Motors had
purchased part of the
NUMMI plant and renamed
it Tesla Factory, producing the Tesla Model S. By 2016,
the plant had 6,000 employees, with plans for more.
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The plant spans the equivalent of about 88 football fields, and is
configured into a main building that does the final assembly of
vehicles and five other facilities:
Plastics facility fabricating bumpers, instrument panels, interior
panels, and others;
Stamping facility that fabricates all visible sheet metal parts;
Welding facility that assembles all metallic parts into one rigid
Two paint facilities, one for passenger vehicles and another for truck
In the initial 20 months of hiring,
NUMMI hired 2,200 hourly
workers—85% from the old GM-Fremont plant, among them the old union
hierarchy. The union also played a role in selecting managers, except
for 16 directly assigned by GM and about 30
Toyota managers and
production coordinators from Japan, including the CEO, Tatsuro Toyoda,
part of the company's founding family. By 2006, the plant
had 5,500 employees.
Until the facility's closure in April 2010, 4,700 workers were
NUMMI employees were represented by The
International, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement
Workers of America (UAW) Local 2244.
Fremont, California plant operated by
NUMMI produced the following
Chevrolet Nova (1984–1988)
Toyota Corolla (E90) (1987-1992)
Toyota Corolla (E100) (1993-1997)
Toyota Corolla (E110) (1997-2002)
Toyota Corolla (E120) (2002-2007)
Toyota Corolla (E140) (2006-2010)
Geo Prizm (1989–1997)
Chevrolet Prizm (1998–2002)
Toyota Hilux (1991–1995, predecessor of the Tacoma)
Toyota Tacoma (1995-2010)
Toyota Voltz (2002-2004)
Pontiac Vibe (2002-2009)
Production of the
Pontiac Vibe hatchback was discontinued in August
2009 as GM phased out the Pontiac brand in the midst of a
bailout. Along with Saturn and Hummer, Pontiac joined
Oldsmobile (which had been discontinued after 2004) among the four GM
brands that are no longer in production.
Beginning in September 1986, the
NUMMI plant produced the
Corolla. In January 1995, it began producing the Toyota
Tacoma pickup truck.
Fremont Assembly factory which
NUMMI took over was built by
General Motors and operated by them from 1962 to 1982, when
the Fremont employees were "considered the worst workforce
in the automobile industry in the United States", according to the
United Auto Workers. Employees
drank alcohol on the job, were frequently absent (enough so that the
production line couldn't be started), and even committed petty acts of
sabotage such as putting "Coke bottles inside the door panels, so
they'd rattle and annoy the customer." GM was
departmentalized as per Henry Ford's Division of
labour, but without the necessary
communication; management did not consider workers' view of
production, and quantity was preferred over quality.
The idea of reopening the plant emerged from the need that GM had to
build high-quality and profitable small cars and the need
to start building cars in the United States, a requirement due to the
possibility of import restrictions by the U.S.
Congress. The goal was to produce high quality
at low cost, but supported by including workers in the
process. The choice of the Fremont plant and its workers
was unusual because of the previous problems. In spite of the history
and reputation, when
NUMMI reopened the factory for production in
1984, 85% of the troublesome GM workforce was rehired,
with some sent to Japan to learn the
System. Workers who made the
transition identified the emphasis on quality and teamwork by Toyota
management as what motivated a change in work
ethic. Among the cultural changes were the
same uniform, parking and cafeterias for all levels of employment in
order to promote the team concept, and a
no-layoff policy. Built-in process quality and employee
suggestion programs for continual improvement were other
Consensus decision-making reached management
level, in contrast with the old departmentalization.
By December 1984, the first car, a yellow
Chevrolet Nova rolled off
the assembly line. And almost right away, the
NUMMI factory was
producing cars at the same speed and with as few defects per 100
vehicles as those produced in
Japan, with higher worker
NUMMI operated at 58.6% capacity, and had not reached
break-even by 1991.
Despite the early success at Fremont, by 1998 (15 years later) GM had
still not been able to implement lean manufacturing in the rest of the
United States, though GM managers trained at
NUMMI were successful in introducing the approach to its unionized
factories in Brazil.
NUMMI was Toyota's only unionized plant in the U.S.
Events as closure approached
Some of the challenges for the factory were higher costs.
Daily tours of the plant, offered free to the public, were ended on
February 27, 2009.
On June 29, 2009,
General Motors announced that they would discontinue
the joint venture with Toyota.
The announcement was made following GM CEO Fritz Henderson announcing
in April that
General Motors would discontinue the Pontiac Vibe
production at NUMMI. The two automakers were in discussions but could
not find a suitable product to be produced at the factory. “After
extensive analysis, GM and
Toyota could not reach an agreement on a
future product plan that made sense for all parties,” GM North
America President Troy Clarke said in a statement.
"Toyota’s hope was to continue the venture and we haven’t yet
decided any plans at the factory,” said Hideaki Homma, Toyota's
Tokyo-based spokesman. “While we respect this decision by GM, the
economic and business environment surrounding
Toyota is also extremely
severe, and so this decision by GM makes the situation even more
difficult for Toyota.” Before GM decided to sever its stake in the
NUMMI joint venture,
Toyota was considering offering a version of its
Prius hybrid to GM that would be built at the factory and sold as a GM
Toyota has indicated that it was seriously considering
exiting the venture also.
On August 27, 2009,
Toyota announced that it would discontinue its
production contract with NUMMI, shifting Tacoma production to its San
Antonio, Texas pickup plant and Corolla assembly to Blue Springs,
Mississippi. A total of 5,400 employees were affected, including
4,550 UAW hourly workers.
In November 2009, Toyota's head of U.S. sales took calls from
autoworkers, saying that though it has been a difficult decision to
shut down the plant, "the economics of having a plant in California so
far away from the supplier lines" in the Midwest "just doesn't make
business sense" for
Toyota to continue running the NUMMI
plant. Meanwhile, autoworkers prepared for the shut down
by refreshing skills and planning for career transitions.
Federal, state, and local officials also participated in the
transition discussions. In March 2010, 90% of the 3,700
UAW workers at the plant approved a $281 million severance package
averaging $54,000, paid by
Toyota to the plant's 4,700
Production of the
Toyota models that used to be made at
moved to Toyota's plants in southern states.
Alternatives to closure
In January 2010, a possible use of the land was proposed: a new
stadium for home games of the
Oakland Athletics of Major League
Baseball. It is close to the proposed site of Cisco Field, which was
never formally approved.
State officials crafted sales tax exemption on new factory equipment
to preserve Nummi. A regional committee was formed in
February 2010 to investigate the closure of the plant, and
the facility was appraised while operating.
On March 10, 2010,
Aurica Motors announced a proposal to save the
NUMMI automotive plant and the jobs associated with it. The company
said that it intended to raise investment capital and garner federal
economic stimulus funds to help retrain the workers and retool the
facility for production of electrical
NUMMI plant ceased operations on April 1, 2010, ending the
Toyota-GM joint venture. California's last automobile manufacturing
plant saw its last car, a Corolla, roll off the assembly
NUMMI sold off equipment at an auction,
with robots and tooling going to
Toyota plants in Kentucky,
Texas and Mississippi.
NUMMI sold some
equipment to Tesla for $15 million.
After NUMMI: use of the land and facility
Further information: Tesla Factory
On May 20, 2010,
Tesla Motors and
Toyota announced a partnership to
work on electric vehicle development, which included Tesla's partial
purchase (210 of 370 acres) of the former
NUMMI site for
$42 million, mainly consisting of the factory
building, but not equipment. Tesla
Elon Musk said the Tesla S sedan will be built at the
plant. When Tesla took over the location in 2010, they
renamed it the Tesla Factory. Tesla would be collaborating
Toyota on the "development of electric vehicles, parts, and
production system and engineering support". According to Tesla Motors'
plans, the plant would first be used to produce the Tesla Model S
sedan with "future vehicles" following in the coming years. The plant
was projected to produce 20,000 vehicles a year and employ 1,000
workers to start.
CAMI Automotive (CAMI) — A similar joint venture in
General Motors from 1986 to 2009; now operating as a wholly
owned GM plant.
Automobile Industries (UAAI) — A similar joint
Toyota and GM-
Holden from 1989 to 1996.
Gung Ho — A 1986 comedy film portraying a similar joint venture and
is used by
Toyota executives in Japan as an example of how not to
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Toyota mull joint U.S. venture". Eugene Register-Guard.
(Oregon). wire services. March 9, 1982. p. 5A.
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Production System at NUMMI". ResearchGate. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
^ a b c d e Glass, Ira (July 17, 2015). "
NUMMI 2015, Transcript".
Archived from the original on June 19, 2016. Retrieved November 9,
2016. nobody in the GM plant would ever ask to help. They would come
and yell at you because you got behind. I can't remember any time in
my working life where anybody asked for my ideas to solve the problem.
There's nobody to pull you out at General Motors, so you're going to
let something go. Hundreds of misassembled cars. Never stop the line.
. One reason car execs were in denial was Detroit's insular culture.
Yes, unions and management were always at each other's throats, and
yes, GM and its suppliers had a destructive relationship that seemed
to almost discourage quality. But everyone had settled into
comfortable roles in this dysfunctional system and learned to live
with it. -it took about a decade and a half after
NUMMI for change to
even begin to take hold at GM. By the year 2000, GM finally started to
see a generational transformation.
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^ Adler 1992, page 10
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build cars with Toyota". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved May
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Elon Musk Turned Tesla Into
the Car Company of the Future". WIRED. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
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^ a b c Simmers, Tim (March 5, 2006). "
NUMMI plant a model for ailing
car industry". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved November 5, 2017. 5,500
employees. The plant makes 960 cars a day and 650 trucks. A finished
car comes off the assembly line every 55 seconds, and a truck rolls
off every 81 seconds. It takes 6½ hours to make a car at NUMMI. It
costs 30 percent to 40 percent more to make cars here
^ a b Tesla Wants
NUMMI Operational By 2012 Archived May 23, 2010, at
Wayback Machine KTVU.com, May 21, 2010. Retrieved: May 22, 2010
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NUMMI Facility". Retrieved June 20, 2009.[dead
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World" (PDF). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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^ Adler 1992, page 11-12
^ a b Adler 1992, page 14
^ a b Adler 1992, page 33
^ Adler 1992, page 16. Quote: "no lay-offs .. are absolutely crucial
to our success. Team members know that when they contribute ideas for
more effective operations they are not jeopardizing anyone's job. And
that's fundamental, since they know more than any manager or
industrial engineer about how to improve our efficiency and
^ Adler 1992, page 18
^ Adler 1992, page 20
^ Adler 1992, page 23
^ Adler 1992, page 24
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Fears Closer to Home". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
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Toyota to Close Only Union
Factory In U.S." inthesetimes.com. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
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preserve NummiCS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
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^ Ohnsman, Alan (September 18, 2011). "
Toyota gave old robots new
tools to trim U.S. Camry price 2%". Automotive News/Bloomberg.
Retrieved June 5, 2017. Along with the production robots transferred
to Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., plant that makes most of the Camrys sold
in North America, Nummi equipment was also acquired by Toyota's San
Antonio plant and electric-car maker
Tesla Motors Inc.
^ a b Hull, Dana (September 16, 2010). "2010: Tesla gets ready to take
over the former
NUMMI auto plant in Fremont". The Mercury News /
Bloomberg. Archived from the original on May 2, 2017. Retrieved June
5, 2017. The entire
NUMMI facility covers about 370 acres. Tesla is
buying 210 acres, a parcel that contains several buildings that have
approximately 5.5 million square feet of floor space. NUMMI’s
existing press line will be taken apart and sent to Toyota’s plant
in Blue Springs, Miss.
^ "Tesla Buys Nummi Assets". August 20, 2010. Archived from the
original on October 14, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
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^ Tierney, Christine.
Toyota invests in Tesla to help reopen Calif.
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.mw-parser-output .refbegin font-size:90%;margin-bottom:0.5em
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Adler, Paul S. (1992) The ‘Learning Bureaucracy’: New United Motor
Manufacturing, Inc.. School of Business Administration, University of
Southern California. Archive
Photo Tour of
NUMMI from Edmunds.com
JD Power Gold Plant Award for GM
NPR's This American Life's full hour story of the creation and demise
NUMMI - episode #403 from This American Life
NPR's This American Life's 2015 update on NUMMI's story - episode #561
from This American Life
NUMMI production over the years
Coordinates: 37°29′41″N 121°56′41″W /
37.49472°N 121.94472°W / 37.49472; -121.94472
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