Steve St. Angelo, jefe of Toyota’s Latin American operations, poured more cold water on widely reported, and then strongly discounted news of building a plant in Mexico. Lunching with a small group of reporters at Toyota’s swank Kioi Club yesterday, he said that as much as he would like more capacity in South America, a plant in Mexico is “far from an approved project.” [Continue Reading]
Two weeks ago, Mark Hogan, formerly at GM, and now freshly minted board member at Toyota, told Reuters that Toyota absolutely needs more and bigger plants in Mexico. Days later, Bloomberg saw Toyota execs “scouting the country for possible factory sites.” A minor media frenzy ensued, touting the low labor costs and favorable trade accords south of the border. Yesterday, the story was shot down.
When Chrysler Group LLC announced that it was withdrawing requests for Canadian Government aid earlier this week, my immediate reaction was to think: “there goes another piece of Canada’s auto industry.” Having just months ago watched GM close its Australian operations when it became clear the government there wouldn’t continue to subsidize the industry, it seemed clear that Chrysler would move at least one of its Canadian products to the waiting Toluca, Mexico plant. I was not alone in guessing that Windsor’s minivan plant would be on the block, but in its carefully-worded statement Chrysler indicated it would move ahead with the tool-up for a new generation of minivans there. Chrysler even committed to investing in “substantial product interventions” for Brampton’s Lx platform vehicles (300, Charger, Challenger), which are supposed to hit markets later this year.
So did FCA’s CEO Sergio Marchionne break the political math tying government support to new product investments? Not exactly. He still has plenty of room to maneuver, and lots of possible asks. And the likelihood that a Canada plant will end up losing a Chrysler plant to Mexico remains very high.