Since Toyota announced its decision last December to postpone production at its Blue Springs plant, speculation about the future has abounded. Some of it has been informed discussion, while much of it has been pure conjecture.
It’s only natural that as they wait, people will wonder what’s up and what ultimately will be the timetable of a decision. That includes analyzing in great detail – and drawing sometimes overly hasty conclusions from – every tidbit of news that involves Toyota, in this country or overseas.
It’s helpful, then, when Toyota executives periodically issue public statements of their continuing commitment to build vehicles in Northeast Mississippi. They very intentionally did that this week when Toyota Mississippi Vice President David Copenhaver and company spokeswoman Barbara McDaniel contacted the Daily Journal and other media to convey the message that nothing has changed in Toyota’s plans to eventually be in production here. It’s simply a matter of when.
This company position has never wavered in the 10 months since the postponement announcement, but it’s reassuring to hear it repeated, given our region’s big stake in the success of the project.
Toyota’s production delay, as we have said before, was a sound and prudent business decision. The automotive market was in great distress and company sales were down. It would have been risky if not irresponsible to increase production capacity at such a time.
While there are signs of the beginnings of a recovery, they’re not strong enough yet for the company to pull the production trigger, nor for it to send in a replacement group of Japanese nationals to Mississippi as the initial group of 15 winds up its two-year stay.
So it’s status quo, meaning Toyota will come at some point but it can’t say when. And for now, the Prius is still slated to be built at Blue Springs.
The decision announced earlier this year to close the Toyota-General Motors joint venture in California was one of those developments that sparked a lot of speculation about the impact for Mississippi, especially as to what vehicles other than the Prius might be made here. Again, no one can say definitively – except that any reduction of Toyota capacity means potential opportunities for other company sites at some point.
The waiting game – especially on something as heralded as Toyota in Northeast Mississippi – isn’t easy. But patience will eventually pay off, we remain convinced. When Toyota decides it’s time, it will clearly be because the prospects for success in the market are high. A premature decision would be no better for Northeast Mississippi than it would be for the company.
NEMS Daily Journal