Toyota, legendary for its cautious decision-making, rebooted its 2015 plan to move Corolla production from Ontario to a $1 billion greenfield in central Mexico that would represent a new direction in the company's factory processes and supply chain logistics. Now Toyota says it will use the Mexico factory to produce Tacoma pickups, and will rethink those factory processes it envisioned. As for the Corollas, Toyota will figure out a greenfield location somewhere in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Faraday Future, one of the industry's least known new ventures, said it will set aside its $1 billion greenfield project in North Las Vegas where the company intended to produce an electric luxury car called the FF 91. Faraday will instead refurbish a former Pirelli tire factory near Silicon Valley.
These two companies have little in common. Faraday is an unproven industry aspirant with an unclear financial picture, and Toyota is, well, Toyota. And yet they have both reconstituted their momentous auto plant plans.
In fact, they do have something in common: They are both bedeviled by a changing U.S. market. Toyota needs more pickups yesterday, clever new factory concepts be damned. And Faraday needs to get into Tesla's face as quickly as possible if it wants to be taken seriously.
Renovating an existing building is far faster than creating a factory from scratch.
"Speed to market" is the magic powder of the auto industry. We will hear this mantra repeated in the coming years, in products, in launches and in factory construction. It's not just "How well can you serve me?" It is now "How quickly can you serve me well?"