By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
BLUE SPRINGS – Toyota Motor Corp. said it would employ 2,000 workers at its plant here, and the automaker has nearly fulfilled that promise.
On Wednesday, David Copenhaver, the vice president of administration for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, said the plant employs about 1,950 workers.
The employees – referred to as team members – are split into two shifts who currently are working together. Starting Monday, TMMMS will start staggering the shifts, Copenhaver said. By February, the two shifts will be completely separate.
Copenhaver also said the plant is producing about 100 cars a day. At full capacity, the plant will build about 600 a day between the two shifts.
In addition, the number of colors available on the Corolla has expanded. While black was the first color available on the Corollas being built initially, red, blue, silver and white have since been added. Copenhaver added said the palate continues to grow, with beige and light blue on the way.
On Wednesday, Toyota said its overall sales in the U.S. fell 7 percent from last year. Sales of the Corolla for the year were 240,259, down 9.7 percent. Toyota’s sales were hampered by the March earthquake in Japan and the recent floods in Thailand that slowed production and parts suppliers.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Haley Barbour, whose term expires Jan. 10, helped dedicate a painting at TMMMS.
He said the state will celebrate Toyota Arbor Day with every school child receiving a seedling to plant in honor of Toyota.
The gesture is meant to offset the loss of trees from construction of TMMMS.