And a good Wednesday morning to all. The college football season kicks off in eight — eight! — days. That’s a week and a day. Take out the weekend, and really it’s only six days. Magnolia Marketplace is boldly going out on a limb and declaring that football season will be here in less than a week. Spread the word.
On to not-so-happy news. Toyota has confirmed rumors that started popping up yesterday that it plans to cut worldwide production by about 10 percent. With sales slumping, the company has a production surplus and will idle plants in the U.S. and overseas. Best I can tell, the only American facility affected is the one in Northern California Toyota once shared with General Motors. It will close, which is no big surprise because the move had been rumored for weeks.
How does this affect Mississippi? Well, it probably does nothing to speed the process of opening the Prius Hybrid (or whatever is hopefully, maybe, eventually built there) plant in Blue Springs. It doesn’t make any sense to slash global production by a significant number and open a new facility at the same time.
Mississippi’s other automotive manufacturer has news of its own. Nissan is retrofitting about 60 of its “tugs” at its Smyrna, Tenn., plant with methanol fuel cells. The tugs, which look like mini forklifts, shuttle parts and materials from one part of the facility to another. The fuel cells replace regular batteries, are more energy efficient and require fewer man hours to replace. Details are here. Smyrna is the guinea pig for this technology. The release doesn’t mention anything about the Canton plant. I have a call in to a Nissan North America spokesman to see if this technology will eventually make its way down here. When I hear from him, I’ll post an update.
Updated at 11:20 a.m. : Just got off the phone with a Nissan spokesman, who said the methanol fuel cells will undergo a three-year trial run in Smyrna to gauge their viability. If the company is pleased with the results, there is a possibility the technology will expand into other facilities, including the Canton plant.