Toyota to Upgrade Long Beach Manufacturing

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Toyota to Upgrade Long Beach Manufacturing

TABC today.

Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) announced today a $27 million investment in its Long Beach (aka TABC) operation to support an increase in its stamping and welding of parts for the midsize Tacoma pickup truck made in San Antonio, Texas. (AutoInformed on: Milestones – 40 Years of Toyota Auto Body – Thanks to a so-called “Chicken Tax”)

Toyota Auto Body California – commonly TABC – is now 40 years old. It was Toyota’s first manufacturing facility in the U.S. and came about because of a chicken tax. The tax was the result of a trade war between the U.S. and France and Germany, and the U.S. imposed a 25% tax on imported light trucks initially targeted at Volkswagen in 1963 because our alleged allies were blocking imports of cheap factory-farm produced American chickens with high tariffs – thus the chicken tax name.

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com

Toyota Auto Body Corporation, Long Beach, California circa 2011.

Ford Motor Company successfully lobbied the Johnson Administration to expand the tax to Japanese automakers. The simple workaround at what was then Atlas Fabricators in 1972 was to produce Toyota truck beds for pickup trucks imported into the U.S. from Japan, a strategy also used by other importers.  Two years later, Toyota bought the operation and renamed it TABC, which become its first manufacturing investment in the U.S. It’s ironic that Ford, one of the Detroit Three companies that lobbied  for protection against imported light trucks, later did minor stateside work on the Turkish-built Transit Connect to escape paying the chicken tax and lower the rate to 2.5% from 25%.

The investment will equip long Beach with the first coil-fed laser blanking line for TMNA, expand blanking capability to include steel and aluminum on the same line and increase capacity to cut 5.6 million blanks annually. In addition, these added capabilities will enable TABC to support Tacoma production at TMNA facilities in Baja, California, and Guanajuato, Mexico.

Currently, the facility employs more than 350 people and, with this announcement, represents a $485 million investment. Along with the new technology and expanded capabilities, the investment will also support the transition of 25 TABC variable employees to permanent positions with Toyota. Founded in 1972, TABC is Toyota’s oldest plant in North America. It also supplies service parts for multiple North American-produced Toyota vehicles.

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