Toyota's Hino to Open North American Headquarters in Michigan
Michigan's pitch for fresh automotive investment has attracted a new industry player to the state — Toyota Motor Corp.'s heavy-truck subsidiary Hino Motors Ltd., according to the Detroit News. Governor Jennifer Granholm was scheduled to announce that Hino will establish its North American sales and marketing operations in Bloomfield Hills, according to people familiar with the project. The office will effectively serve as Hino's North American headquarters. Hino's arrival marks the latest in a wave of Asian automotive investment, led primarily by Toyota and its affiliates, that has bolstered southeast Michigan's role as North America's high tech automotive hub. In recent months, South Korea's Hyundai Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., and Suzuki Motor Ltd. have announced plans to establish or expand research and engineering operations in Michigan, helping to offset a decline in manufacturing jobs in the state. Japanese auto supplier Aisin Seiki Co. Ltd. is breaking ground today on a test facility in Fowlerville. The brake, transmission, and chassis systems specialist is 23 percent-owned by Toyota. In a separate deal, Toyota plans to buy a 690-acre plot near Ann Arbor to expand its nearby Toyota Technical Center. The center, established in 1977, serves as the headquarters for Toyota's North American research and engineering activities. Although the Japanese automaker's U.S. headquarters are in southern California, Toyota has expanded its presence in Michigan to tap into the state's wealth of automotive talent. In May, it opened a small design studio on the 106-acre grounds of its technical center. With the expansion of the center, and the construction of a proving ground by an affiliated supplier, Toyota is gathering engineers, designers, and suppliers in the area to speed up testing and development as it strives to expand its U.S. presence. Toyota sells cars and light trucks under the Lexus, Toyota, and Scion brands, and now has 12.1 percent of the U.S. auto market, up from 8.7 percent five years ago. It is building a full-size truck plant in Texas. Toyota owns just over 50 percent of Hino, Japan's largest medium- and heavy-truck manufacturer with $10 billion in annual sales. This month, Hino began producing trucks in North America for the first time at a Toyota facility in Long Beach, Calif. Hino is producing Hino Class 4-7 trucks designed specially for the North American market. It plans to produce around 2,000 trucks this year and increase that to 10,000 by 2006.