Toyota moving to Texas from Canada is a huge deal. Not only will the automaker have a new home in the Lone Star State, but it will be changing the name of its North American division from "Toyota" to just "Toyota." And it’s not just a small change; it’s a big one. Here’s everything you need to know about this important shift in automotive news.
First, let’s take a look at why Toyota is changing its name. In a word: because of the brand’s recognition in the American automobile market. In Canada, where the automaker has been doing business for decades, and even before in Japan, the name is unfamiliar to most people.
"The Toyota brand is known in North America, but not in Canada," explains Kennington. "So when we start advertising in North America, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Because when people go across the oceans to visit a Toyota show or meet a Toyota dealer, they’ve never been there before, so they don’t understand what the hues are, the tones, the feel of it. When we advertise in other countries, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel."
The car manufacturer is moving its U.S. headquarters from Michigan to Toyota Park in Plano, Texas. This is the same location that the company’s new model, the redesigned Toyota Prius, will be shown. The new car will be built there, too. "The whole point is that when a customer comes to a showroom, they are introduced to a vehicle that is very much like what they are expecting to get in their own car," says Kennington. "That new model can be just like the one that is on the market now, just on a smaller scale."
Toyota says it will continue to manufacture the Prius model in Mexico, where labor costs are reasonable, and quality of vehicles is known to be excellent. In North America, however, labor costs are high. It costs much more to build a car in Mexico than it does in the United States. "It doesn’t make sense for a manufacturer to have a facility that is not capable of providing the vehicles that are made here in the North American continent," explains Kennington. "NAFCA sees value in being able to offer cars and trucks to consumers everywhere that meets their exact specifications, but locating a manufacturing facility that can do so is challenging."
Toyota is just the type of company that can benefit from an advanced education system and a new set of customers, says Kennington. "When they have a new model coming out, it’s a big deal. There’s lots of talk about change. The auto-industry changes every year. We’ll soon be seeing some changes in our industry, too, such as higher gas prices and more consumer choices.