Toyota announced on Monday that it will move its national headquarters to Plano, Texas, after a half-century in the Los Angeles suburbs.The company will create a campus north of Dallas that will bring together 4,000 employees from manufacturing, sales and marketing and corporate operations around the country. Also moving will be Toyota Financial, its financing arm.
A company statement said the automaker is trying to create a “One Toyota” vision for the U.S. and Canada.
With its worldwide headquarters in Japan, Toyota’s U.S. operation has headquartered in Southern California for more than 50 years. Most employees affected by the move, which begins in 2016, work on a sprawling campus in Torrance.
“This is the most significant change we’ve made to our North American operations in the past 50 years, and we’re excited for what the future holds,” says Jim Lentz, Toyota’s U.S. CEO.
Southern California once was the U.S. home to Japan’s Big 3 — Toyota, Nissan and Honda. Then Nissan announced in 2005 that it was leaving for Tennessee. It initially moved to Nashville, then to Smyrna, Tenn., where it also has manufacturing operations. Honda last year started relocating its North America corporate headquarters to Ohio, near its Marysville plant.
Though Texas has been aggressive in luring companies, it seems, on the surface, an unusual move for Toyota. It makes its Tundra pickup trucks there, at a plant in San Antonio, but its largest manufacturing facility is in Kentucky. Also, as a company known for its hybrids and other “green” technologies, Toyota’s spiritual home seemed to be firmly rooted in Southern California.
But over the years, Toyota has gone from an importer of vehicles from Japan to a company that makes most of its U.S.-market vehicles in North America. Texas will put it closer to its key plants in a location with a lower cost of living and tax structure than in California.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry hailed the news. “Over the past decade, Texas and Toyota have developed a strong partnership that has resulted in good-paying jobs for thousands of Texans,” Perry said in a statement. “Toyota understands that Texas’ employer-friendly combination of low taxes, fair courts, smart regulations and world-class workforce can help businesses of any size succeed and thrive.”
Toyota’s move will involve 2,000 employees from its sales and marketing arm, Toyota Motor Sales, in Torrance. Another 1,000 will come from Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America in Erlanger, Ky. Corporate employees from Toyota Motor North America in New York will be offered jobs in Texas. Toyota Financial Services in Torrance, with 1,000 employees, will follow in 2017.
With all its major units consolidated in a single campus, “We will be better equipped to speed decision making, share best practices and leverage the combined strength of our employees,” Lentz says. The result, he adds, will be better products.
Toyota will continue to have about 2,300 employees in California, where it will retain its Calty design studio, and 8,200 in Kentucky at its extensive manufacturing operations.