WASHINGTON -- Toyota Motor Corp. plans to end production in March 2010 at a California joint venture where it has built vehicles with General Motors, the company said Thursday.
The decision would mean the shutdown of the sole auto assembly plant on the West Coast if no other carmaker emerges to keep it going.
Toyota's board voted early Thursday to end the company's production contract at the Fremont-based New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., spokeswoman Cindy Knight confirmed
The board’s decision calls into serious question the future of car part maker Arvin Sango’s Merced plant.
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Arvin Sango opened its 63,000-square foot Merced facility in December 1995, according to the company Web site. The Cooper Avenue plant employs 53 people, after 15 were laid off in April.
Employees at the plant said that they were unable to comment about Toyota’s decision Thursday afternoon. “Due to the circumstances, I really can’t comment right now,” one employee said.
Officials at the Arvin Sango main plant in Madison, Ind. could not be reached for comment.
Arvin Sango customers listed on the company Web site are eight Toyota outfits, Subaru Indiana, Nissan North America and DMAX.
The NUMMI closure in Fremont could have a far-flung effect on the struggling San Joaquin Valley economy. About 1,150 people work in north valley plants that supply parts to NUMMI, mostly in San Joaquin County.
Toyota had said previously that it was moving toward liquidating its stake in the California facility after the plant's fate was thrown into question in June when GM announced it was withdrawing from the 50-50 joint venture. General Motors Co. emerged from bankruptcy and the company's stake in NUMMI is now part of Motors Liquidation Co. — also known as Old GM — where it will be liquidated under court supervision.
The NUMMI plant, established in 1984, employs 4,600 workers. Toyota builds the Corolla compact car and the Tacoma pickup truck at the plant and until recently GM built the Pontiac Vibe station wagon there.
Sun-Star reporter Danielle Gaines and Modesto Bee reports contributed to this article.