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First Mississippi-Built Corolla Rolls Off Production Line

By Sandra Knispel | Published 17 Nov 2011 10:25pm | comments
The 2012 Corolla goes through final inspection at Toyota's Blue Springs plant in northeast Mississippi. Photo: TMMM

Toyota Mississippi is now officially turning out the most-sold car model in the world. MPB’s Sandra Knispel was at the ceremony at the Japanese carmaker’s newest U.S. plant in Blue Springs, near Tupelo yesterday.

“And now ladies and gentlemen the star of today’s show – the first Mississippi-built Toyota Corolla [applause]”

Truth be told, it’s not really the first – in fact 550 have been built here already over the last few months, but who wants to quibble on a day like this. Certainly not outgoing Governor Haley Barbour who is among those instrumental in luring the world’s largest carmaker to Mississippi:

“I knew one thing. That Toyota was the premier automobile manufacturer in the world, perhaps the premier manufacturer in the world. That we weren’t going to settle for anything but the best.”

Earlier, when speaking to the media, Toyota Motor Company’s president, with a name to fit the job – Akio Toyoda – broke into an Elvis impersonation. He was explaining why the Japanese automobile manufacturer delayed the production start by one and a half years when the recession sharply reduced consumer car purchases worldwide.

“Wise men say only fools rush in," Toyoda sang. "We took Elvis Presley's advice. That’s why we waited for the right time. Now is the right time.”

David Copenhaver, vice president of production and administration at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi also could not escape the music metaphor and so he told the ecstatic crowd of Toyota team members and dignitaries:

“Mississippi is known throughout the world as the birthplace of America’s music. Toyota also hopes to become part of Mississippi’s heritage in the years to come by giving great performances every day as we build cars and serve as good corporate citizens.”

Right now, the plant employs 1,500 people but the company has said it’ll hire another 500 as the production ramps up over the next three months. Experts estimate that through suppliers who have also moved to the area and the general trickle-down effect, a total of 17,000 jobs will be added to northeast Mississippi.

Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Blue Springs.



The 2012 Corolla goes through final inspection at Toyota's Blue Springs plant in northeast Mississippi. Photo: TMMM



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