UPDATE: Toyota to make decision on California plant soon

WASHINGTON — Toyota’s top U.S. executive says the company will make a decision “as quickly as possible” on the fate of its California joint venture plant with General Motors.

Toyota’s Yoshi Inaba said Monday the company is carefully evaluating its options for the Fremont, Calif., plant, called New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.

General Motors is ending its joint venture with Toyota as part of its downsizing under bankruptcy. The plant currently makes the Pontiac Vibe station wagon for GM and the Corolla compact car and Tacoma pickup truck for Toyota.

Inaba also says Toyota has not made any decisions on its Mississippi plant. The plant was scheduled to start production in 2010, but that plan is on hold because of market conditions in the United States.

“We are eagerly looking forward to the market coming back quickly so that we will know the direction we are heading so we can make the right decision,” he said.

Inaba said he expected Prius to eventually be built in the United States but Toyota was evaluating the types of hybrid component parts that would be needed if the Prius was built here.

Ken Thomas/The Associated Press