Toyota VP: Blue Springs progressing toward full production

BLUE SPRINGS — Five months after starting production, and weeks into its second production line shift, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi is making progress toward full capacity, according to a plant executive.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports David Copenhaver, vice president of administration for the Blue Springs plant, said the facility will be able to roll out 150,000 Corolla sedans a year. While Copenhaver declined to reveal how many cars the plant is making now, he said steady progress was being made.

“Things are going well,” he said. “People work hard at the plant.”

The plant now employs just less than 2,000 workers. At full production — slated for later this year — the plant is expected to make 600 vehicles a day.

The plant is in production mode 244 days a year, Copenhaver said.

He added that Toyota plans to unveil a slew of new or updated vehicles and to have 20 new products by the end of 2013.

The next-generation Corolla is expected to be introduced next year, auto industry experts say. The vehicle is the world’s best-selling car in history, with more than 35 million sold. It also is among the top 10 sellers in the U.S.

Copenhaver said Toyota Mississippi wants to become the safest plant in the country.

“Safety is our top value, not our top priority,” he said. “Priorities can change.”

Copenhaver said the plant receives 92 semi-trucks worth of parts every day to build the Corollas. Seven key suppliers in the area contribute to that total, but still, 30 percent of parts are imported.

He said the number of suppliers will grow as demand for the Corolla increases.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has said additional suppliers should come to Mississippi once the next-generation model is introduced.

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