Toyota breaks the suspense with 1.5 new, lean TNGA plants

No cameras allowed inside - the ladies in the lobby were much prettier anyway

No cameras allowed inside – the ladies in the lobby were much prettier anyway

In April 2013, world’s number one carmaker Toyota announced a moratorium on building new plants. That moratorium is drawing to an end, in a Toyota-typical slow and watchful way. Toyota is building fewer new plants than its competitors, and it is building those fewer plants with far less money.

This afternoon, calls went out to the Tokyo automotive press corps to come to Toyota at 5 for a highly secretive “briefing,” topic unknown, keep your cameras at home, and your mouths shut until 10pm. “We’ll probably hear what the Nikkei has been writing for weeks now,” muttered a grumpy Automotive News correspondent Hans Greimel, and he was right as usual. As expected and reported everywhere. Toyota lifts its self-imposed stop on factory expansion with a brand-new plant in Mexico, and an expansion of its Chinese joint venture plant with Guangzhou Auto. Toyota doesn’t seem to be in a particular hurry to do so.

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Toyota’s TNGA is TPS 2.0

Perplexed press: So, that's TNGA?

Perplexed press: So, that’s TNGA?

Yesterday, Toyota trucked a few busloads of journalists to Toyota City to unveil the Toyota New Global Architecture. Those who didn’t go, and who used the press release to write about common parts, missed the story. Those who expected a Japanese version of MQB, went home disappointed, or confused. Those who followed prior hints that production engineering plays an essential part in TNGA, with the aim of increasing a plant’s output and flexibility, while keeping CAPEX in check, were not surprised. In a full day of presentations, we saw very little hard evidence of modular systems. What we heard, saw, and could touch was living, working, grinding and stamping proof of TPS 2.0, a new-millennium-ready version of Toyota’s vaunted production system. [Continue Reading]