PARIS - Toyota will recruit 1,000 workers this month for its new plant in Valenciennes, France, where production of the Yaris supermini starts early next year.
These 1,000 'team members' -as they are called by Toyota - will make up a first shift. Toyota has received 9,000 applications for these jobs alone.
The hiring of workers for a second shift will take place next year as Toyota builds up to the annual capacity of 150,000 units a year by 2002.
'We'll start the second shift only when we consider that the work done by the first shift meets our quality and efficiency requirements,' said Didier Leroy, vice president in charge of manufacturing for Toyota Motor Manufacturing France (TMMF), the Toyota subsidiary that will run the Valenciennes plant.
TMMF has already hired 300 people to work at Valenciennes - with fewer than 10 percent coming from the automotive industry. That total includes most of the managers and engineers; two-thirds of the plant maintenance team; 15 French/Japanese interpreters; and 80 so-called 'production team leaders.' These foremen will be in charge of leading teams of five to 10 workers, and will play a key role in Toyota's production system.
'They have been selected for their ability to be versatile and to solve problems,' said Leroy.
Recent French newspaper reports suggested Toyota had problems recruiting these team leaders because of the high demands made on the individuals by the Japanese manufacturer.
'Those problems were exaggerated,' said Leroy.
Job One at Valenciennes will take place 'as soon as possible in January or February 2001,' said Leroy. Toyota plans to produce 50,000 to 60,000 units in 2001, and 100,000 to 150,000 units in 2002.
Yaris is already Toyota's most popular model in western Europe with sales of 67,800 so far this year. That total includes 13,400 Yaris Versos, the compact minivan derivative.
For the whole year, Sales and Marketing Vice President Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz is forecasting sales of 650,000 units for Toyota in Europe. Yaris will make up 190,000 of that total.