Chicago Auto Show
CHICAGO – A document leaked to the media indicating Toyota Motor Corp. will cut wages at its North American manufacturing plants does not reflect an “official company position or plan,” Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor North America, tells reporters here at the Chicago auto show.
In a 42-page document obtained by the Detroit Free Press, Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America President Seiichi Sudo writes of aligning employee compensation at Toyota’s U.S. plants with the average manufacturing wage in the state where the facility is located, rather than in line with other vehicle assembly plants in the country.
“(Toyota should) not tie ourselves so closely to the U.S. auto industry or other competitors,” Sudo reportedly wrote.
But Press says the document was just a “planning discussion” by Sudo.
“That document wasn’t about specific wage rates to individuals,” he says following a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago.
“It’s an awareness that, if we go forward, and if our labor costs as a percent of sales and a percent of profit continue to grow, we will have to address that to become more efficient and more effective in heading that off.”
Press declines to say what percentage of Toyota’s total North American manufacturing costs labor represents.
The Detroit Free Press says Toyota projects a $900 million increase in U.S. manufacturing compensation by 2011 and is working to trim that figure by a third.
Meanwhile, Press says he has no expectations regarding the recent talks between Ford President Alan Mulally and Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho, calling them “a get-acquainted opportunity.”
He doesn’t rule out a collaboration along the lines of Toyota’s New United Motor Mfg. Inc. joint venture with General Motors Corp. in Fremont, CA, that builds the Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe.