As General Motors begins to phase out the Pontiac division, many wondered what would happen to the joint venture with Toyota that was responsible for building the Pontiac Vibe (pictured). GM finally answered all questions after announcing that its relationship with Toyota via the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., or NUMMI, would cease this August after 25 years. In a brief statement released this week, GM North America President Troy Clarke said that the joint venture would not be part of the 'New GM' as the automaker emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The NUMMI plant is located in Fremont, Calif. and is currently responsible for manufacturing of the Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Corolla and the Pontiac Vibe.
Other options were looked into by both companies including moving the Vibe to one of the remaining GM divisions (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC) or coming up with a new model to share between both brands. The first option, moving the Vibe to another division, was made difficult by the excess of hatchbacks at Chevy and the fact that the car wouldn't fit in as a Buick, Cadillac or GMC. Chevrolet already has the HHR and Aveo5, and production is planned for the Spark and Orlando. It was also rumored that Toyota had offered GM a version of the Prius including Toyota's class-leading Hybrid Synergy Drive, but with the highly acclaimed Volt going through final developmental tuning, GM kindly said 'no thank you.' When the Volt launches as a 2011 mode, Chevrolet will be marketing it as a sporty alternative to cars such as the Prius and the Honda Insight
Originally, the joint venture was aimed to give GM a look at Toyota's efficient manufacturing abilities while allowing Toyota to gain its first of many production facilities in North America. Since the joint venture began in 1984, Chevrolet- and Geo-badged vehicles such as the Chevrolet/Geo Prizm and Chevrolet Nova (1985-88) have consistently been among the more fuel-efficient vehicles offered under GM. Last year, NUMMI produced a total of 340,000 vehicles with only 70,000 of which being Pontiac Vibes. It is expected that following the removal of GM from NUMMI, Toyota will either move production of the Prius to the facility which is among the most efficient plants in North America or it will move production of the Corolla and Tacoma to the other production facility responsible for the Corolla in Cambridge, Ontario. NUMMI employs an estimated 5,500 workers.
As a part of its bankruptcy proceedings, GM is putting all of its viable assets into the 'New GM' and ditching the rest in 'Old GM.' After a quarter century, GM's ownership stake in NUMMI will become part of the latter, but Clarke goes on to say that GM will 'remain open to future opportunities of mutual interest.'