Moving Day: 4 Automaker Relocations that Reshaped the Industry
Toyota's announcement yesterday that it would be moving its U.S. sales operation from Torrence, California to Plano, Texas sent shock waves across the industry. Toyota has called California home for five decades, and has been in its Torrence headquarters since 1982. The bulk of its workforce is located there, and plans suggest that as many as 3,000 jobs could relocate to Texas. But it's not the first time a major auto manufacturer has picked up stakes for greener (read: cheaper) pastures. Nissan Moves to Tennessee
The last auto manufacturer to evacuate was when Nissan loaded up the moving trucks and broke east for Franklin, Tennessee. In 2005, the Washington Post reported that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn expected half the workforce to move from California to Tennessee, but the estimates proved exceedingly optimistic. Out of the 120-person IT department, for example, just eight people decided to make the move. According to an anonymous source, in one of the first company-wide meetings, Ghosn asked how many people in the temporary Tennessee headquarters had worked in the auto industry before, fewer than half raised their hands.
RELATED: Full Galleries of the Tennessee-Built Nissan Rogue
Honda Moves its CEO to Ohio
Like Toyota and Nissan, Honda's North American Division had called California home since it first started selling cars in the United States. It didn't make news like the Nissan or Toyota relocations, but its a harbinger of what's to come: in February of 2013, Honda announced that Tetsuo Iwamura, executive vice president and president of Honda North America, was getting a new job title -- chief operating officer of automobiles -- and a new office in Marysville, Ohio. Honda started building Gold Wing Motorcycles in Marysville in 1979, and in 1982, invested $4 billion in a 3.6 million square foot facility there. Iwamura's move, along with about 50 other salaried executives, was quietly interpreted as a signal that like Nissan and now Toyota, Honda was ready to house both its sales and manufacturing wings under one roof.
PHOTOS: Honda's First US-Built Accord
Premier Automotive Group Moves to California
In 1999, Jacques Nasser was flying high as CEO of Ford Motor Company. He'd been buying up luxury brands like Aston Martin, Volvo and Land Rover like you'd buy Matchbox cars -- to the tune of an estimated $17 billion -- and he decided they should all live under one roof. In 2001, PAG opened a headquarters in Irvine, California at a cost of $68 million, with a floor for each brand, and a 90,000 square foot development center. The plan to relocate Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Lincoln to California never materialized, though, and in the process, all of those brands lost key workers to other manufacturers. By 2010, Ford fire-saled all of the PAG brands with the exception of Lincoln, which is still coasting along on fumes. In a fitting conclusion to a disastrous plan, in 2008, Ford ended up leasing the sprawling headquarters to Taco Bell.
PHOTOS: Lincoln's first PAG Concept - The Lincoln Blackwood
Buick Moves to Detroit
It's hard to imagine in these days of badge engineering, but until the 1970s, Buick -- like all the GM divisions -- was its own car company, with its own headquarters and manufacturing plants, building products influenced by, yet completely unique from, GM Corporate. Its headquarters had been in Flint, Michigan since 1904, when it built the single largest manufacturing facility in the world. In 1983 -- inspired by Toyota's massive headquarters in Torrence, California -- Buick set out to build a world class headquarters in this industrial giant of a city, comprising the brand, as well as the Fisher Body Division, which called Flint home since the William Durant opened it in the 1920s. By 1999, Buick City was shuttered, and the brand moved under the Cadillac/Luxury Car Division in Detroit. The entire Buick City headquarters was demolished between 2001 and 2003.
PHOTOS: The Pride of Flint - The 1939 Buick Roadmaster