PARIS - Toyota is assembling a small team to begin preparations for the plant it will open in Valenciennes, France, in early 2001.
Toyota executives met last week at company headquarters in Nagoya, Japan, to discuss the layout of the FF4 billion ($671 million) plant and its management structure. Details will be decided this summer.
Meanwhile, Toyota has named a project representative in Valenciennes and said it will appoint a three-member plant management team in autumn.
Seichiro Adachi will arrive in Valenciennes next month to head the advance team. Adachi, 45, now works in Toyota's Europe and Africa Division in Japan. He previously spent several years at Toyota offices in Brussels and Paris.
Senior management at the Valenciennes plant will consist of a Japanese chairman and two general managers, likely to be Europeans hired from outside the company.
The chairman will report directly to Toyota in Japan. The two general managers will be in charge of daily operations. One will be responsible for manufacturing, quality, purchasing and other technical matters. The second manager will be in charge of general administration, human resources and public affairs.
Construction begins next year. Toyota will build its new Yaris supermini car at the greenfield site.
'The concept of this plant must fit the production of a small car,' said Hiromi Suzumura, Toyota Motor Europe representative in Paris. 'It will be a new plant but not a revolutionary one, like the Smart car factory.'
The plant will differ from Toyota's Takaoka, Japan, plant where the Yaris will be built beginning next year, and its plant in Burnaston, UK, which was designed to make larger cars.
'We want to be as realistic and pragmatic as possible at Valenciennes to make it a profitable operation,' said Suzumura.
He said Adachi will be 'our man in Valenciennes.' He will manage a preparation office with a staff of about 15 engineers, lawyers and human resources specialists.
Toyota's policy at transplants is to give operational responsibility to local executives. But several Japanese managers will be involved in the beginning to coordinate with departments in Japan.