NUMMI: General Motors’ Wasted Golden Opportunity

Remember when everyone and their cousin was driving an AE82 Toyota Corolla/Chevy Nova? They were coming from Fremont, California’s NUMMI, birthing ground of more than 8 million cars, and it will build its last one tomorrow.

Twenty-six years ago, Toyota and General Motors entered into the joint venture during the height of the import wars. The Big T was destroying GM in quality and growing rapidly in market share. But in an unprecedented move, Toyota invited the General into its factories to observe exactly how every Corolla was built to such high-quality standards, and even trained GM workers in “The Toyota Way.”

Why did the Japanese company open its doors to its biggest competitor? Why did it take so long for GM to learn the lessons? If you keep up with industry news, you’ll likely know the answers — to learn how to build factories in the US; the UAW and GM management — but you’ll probably still learn something by listening to This American Life‘s fascinating hour-long podcast about the factory.

[Image: minkara]

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6 Responses to NUMMI: General Motors’ Wasted Golden Opportunity

  1. E-AT_me says:

    so sad that NUMMI is closing. i remember those Novas. my neighbor had a white hatchback one. that one all done up is pretty nice looking. i would not have even considered touching one, but that one as a hatchback would be really nice!

  2. bert says:

    After all the cooperation, and deals, and partnerships, (and saving GM’s Backside!) GM is the one hitting Toyota below the belt over the recent recalls. For shaaaaaame! I guess the American companies could learn a thing or from Japanese honor.

    My CAPTCHA has a rather convenient subliminal message!

  3. miles says:

    so sad!! 5mins away from my house!! i drive by NUMMI everyday!

  4. Rob says:

    finally got the chance to listen to this in it’s entirety. i highly recommend this to those who wish to know why GM is so awful.

  5. nlpnt says:

    GM has a long, doleful history of missing opportunities in the small/medium sector, going back to the Corvair.

    I still want an AE9x Geo Prizm GSi 5-door, though.

  6. Steve says:

    I went there a few times during field trips while in elementary school; oh well, the vehicle production “system” has adapted and changed apparently

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