Months and months ago, Handy Toyota, courtesy of several online news sources, broke the news that Toyota was opening a dedicated Toyota Corolla plant in good ol' Blue Springs, Mississippi, bringing countless American jobs to the table as Toyota's employees filled the promise of up to 150,000 Toyota Corolla units leaving the doors a year. And then we - meaning both we in Vermont and, in many instances to a greater degree, our brethren from the south - were bombed by Hurricane Irene, a frightening hurricane that demolished much of the east coast and inland.
Not to be outdone by Mother Nature, Toyota didn't yield. Many car manufacturers face difficulty and adversity with closings; take Saturn and Pontiac for example, who after the banking collapse of the mid to late-2000s were both cast aside in favor of a more targeted product line. But not Toyota. Instead, the Japanese-born and "most" American automaker is driving for a full opening soon, picking up the proverbial and literal pieces to make a dynamite compact sedan factory to flood America with Corolla sedans.
Read below for more from the Associated Press and USA Today (source: USA Today, "Toyota moving fast to ramp up Mississippi plant." usatoday.com, April 2, 2012).
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From the AP:
Five months after starting production, and weeks into its second production line shift, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi is making progress toward full capacity, according to a plant executive.
The Daily Journal reports that David Copenhaver, vice president of administration for the Blue Springs plant, said the facility will be able to roll out 150,000 Corolla sedans a year. While Copenhaver declined to reveal how many cars the plant is making now, he said steady progress was being made.
"Things are going well," he said. "People work hard at the plant."
The plant now employs just under 2,000 workers. At full production - scheduled for later this year - the plant is expected to make 600 vehicles a day.
The plant is in production mode 244 days a year, Copenhaver said.
He added that Toyota plans to unveil a slew of new or updated vehicles and that by the end of 2013, to have 20 new products.
The next-generation Corolla is expected to be introduced next year, auto industry experts say. The vehicle is the world's best-selling car in history, with more than 35 million sold. It also is among the top 10 sellers in the U.S.
Copenhaver said Toyota Mississippi wants to become the safest plant in the country.
"Safety is our top value, not our top priority," he said. "Priorities can change."
Copenhaver said the plant receives 92 semi-trucks worth of parts every day to build the Corollas. Seven key suppliers in the area contribute to that total, but still, 30% of parts are imported.
He said the number of suppliers will grow as demand for the Corolla increases.
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has said additional suppliers should come to Mississippi once the next-generation model is introduced.