GM seeks to replace Vibe at Toyota joint venture

Automotive News reports on GM's search for a new model to be produced at its Toyota joint venture plant, NUMMI.

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As it shrinks its North American product portfolio, General Motors is negotiating with Toyota Motor Corp. to designate a new GM vehicle that would be built by the automakers' joint venture, New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.

If the talks succeed, they would lead to a new model for one of GM's surviving brands--Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, or GMC--said GM spokesman Jim Hopson.

The Pontiac Vibe crossover is now GM's only product from the NUMMI partnership in Fremont, Calif. GM said last week that it will end production of the Pontiac line, including the Vibe, by the end of 2010.

Hopson said GM is talking with Toyota and NUMMI to identify another vehicle to be built at the former GM plant in Fremont.

"We're negotiating to see how best to utilize that facility," Hopson told Automotive News. "We're clearly not backing away from our partnership at NUMMI."

GM and Toyota began building small cars together at NUMMI in 1984. In addition to the Vibe, the plant now builds the Toyota Tacoma pickup and the Toyota Corolla small car.

The venture was designed to produce cars on a 50-50 basis for Toyota and GM, with each company getting 100,000 to 120,000 cars a year.

But for many years, GM's take from the plant has been much smaller than Toyota's. In 2008, NUMMI built 271,202 vehicles for Toyota--149,341 Corollas and 121,861 Tacomas--and 70,839 Vibes for GM.

GM has little in its product portfolio that resembles the Vibe. The Korea-built Chevrolet Aveo 5 and Pontiac G3 are five-door hatchbacks smaller than the Vibe.

"There's really nothing wrong with the Vibe," Hopson said. "Its only problem right now is that it is a Pontiac."

Hopson said GM is not thinking of continuing production of the Vibe with a different brand badge.

(Source: Automotive News)

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