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Potential Toyota plant in Mexico could affect Canadian operation

Potential Toyota plant in Mexico could affect Canadian operation

Posted by Shanelle Weir on December 05, 2014

Toyota is reportedly eyeing Mexico as a site for a new production facility for its Corolla sedans – raising the question of what that could mean for its Cambridge operation.

According to the Reuters news agency, Toyota officials will make a decision early next year about whether to go ahead with a new Mexican facility.

Greg Mordue, the general manager of Toyota’s Canadian operations, tells CTV News no final decisions have been made about “alternative production locations.”

“We regularly evaluate opportunities in North America, considering current and future market demand,” he said in an email.

Workers at the Cambridge plant – which has manufactured three million Corolla vehicles since 1988 – say they’ve heard rumours of production moving to Mexico, although they’re not sure how much credence to give them.

“There’s rumours every day about everything,” Darren Weber said.

“I’m not worried about it, because they have too much time and money invested in this place.”

The issue of Corolla production moving to Mexico was raised last month at a meeting of Cambridge’s economic development advisory committee, with city staff asked to follow up with the company.

James Goodram, the city’s director of economic development, said in an email that the follow-up has occurred, and the city wasn’t told “of any potential relocation of Toyota” from the city.

Auto industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers says he’s not aware of Toyota’s plans one way or the other, but “would not be surprised” if they were reconsidering their commitment to Canada.

“Canada has serious competitiveness issues on a variety of fronts,” he said.

“Unless we get down to address the dozens if not hundreds of competitiveness issues, than the Toyotas and GMs of the world … will have no choice but to go to jurisdictions where they are competitive.”

Last month, Ford decided to locate an engine manufacturing plant in Mexico.

Unifor blamed that decision on the federal and provincial governments not doing enough to make Windsor a viable option for the automaker.

Additionally, Chrysler and General Motors each have two plants in Ontario that DesRosiers says could meet the same fate within the next decade.

Currently, about half of all Corollas sold in North America are manufactured in Cambridge.

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