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Toyota's Constant Focus On U.S. Camry Manufacturing Efficiency Draws Fake News Angles

Toyota has the top-selling sedan in America, and one of the best reliability ratings in the industry. Now it wants more for its dollar and that is bringing out the speculators.

Toyota's Camry is a leader in all regards in the U.S. auto industry. The car is a perennial top-seller, has top safety ratings, and models with the best horsepower and fuel efficiency in their sub-segments. Now Toyota wants better efficiency from the U.S. plant that builds the Camry. Why wouldn't it?

Bloomberg says it has a video from Toyota which it claims is a warning from the automaker to the plant to "Cut costs now or face an uncertain future."

Bloomberg parses the discussion as a warning to hourly workers in the plant, but hourly workers do not shape the production efficiency improvement plans of an automotive factory. That is the job of the "management" employees who are employed as industrial engineers and production planners. We have not seen the video, but Bloomberg's inclusion of a union angle in this topic seems completely out of whack with reality. Bloomberg included comments from third parties who see this as a threat by Toyota to hourly workers not to unionize.

Why in the world would Toyota make job security threats to win over workers to its side? Job security is a key reason why workers unionize in the first place. GM's most recent strike in Canada was over that very concern.

The article does shine some light on the reality of the situation. The Japanese plant that makes the Camry has already made big changes to the platform manufacturing for the new-generation Camry. Those changes, like every new generation of a vehicle's production, came with efficiency gains. The Kentucky plant has not yet implemented this new platform (again according to Bloomberg), but soon will. The story by Bloomberg is a tempest in a teapot and barely passes the sniff test as real news.

Toyota currently produces an average of about 29,000 Camry cars in North America. Primarily the top-selling trims. It imports between 10 and 25% each month of specialized, lower volume trims.