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Toyota moving US base from California to Texas

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 29, 2014 at 12:30 pm •  Published: April 29, 2014

Jim Lentz, Toyota's CEO for North America, said the new headquarters will enable faster decision making. Lentz told The Associated Press that the move is one of the most significant changes in Toyota's 57-year history in the U.S.

"We needed to be much more collaborative," he said.

Lentz said any employee who wants to move will be given a relocation package and retention bonus. The company is also offering to send employees and their spouses or partners to the new locations to look for new homes.

"Everything we are doing is encouraging people to go," he said.

Plano Mayor Harry LaRosilliere said Toyota's announcement was the result of an intense, three-month courtship but the company's decision was "years in the making."

Plano economic development director Sally Bane said when Toyota decided to hone in on Texas, the city jumpstarted its own campaign, hiring a private consultant who worked with Toyota to help close the deal.

Toyota will join Cigna Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Pepsico Inc.'s Frito Lay in a city with an unemployment rate lower than the state average. Plano's 265,000 residents have a median income of $81,000, one of the highest in the country.

Toyota Motor Corp. has had a presence in California since 1957, when it opened its first U.S. headquarters in a former Rambler dealership in Hollywood. The following year - Toyota's first in the U.S. market - it sold 287 Toyopet Crown sedans and one Land Cruiser.

By 1975, Toyota had become the top import brand in the U.S. It opened its current U.S. headquarters in Torrance in 1982. Toyota sold 2.2 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year.

The company also maintains offices in New York and Washington. Plants in Mississippi, Texas and Indiana aren't affected by the moves.

Lentz, who became Toyota's first CEO for the North America region in 2013, said Toyota President Akio Toyoda encouraged him to think of ways to make North America more self-reliant. Lentz said he began working on the idea of a combined headquarters last April or May.

The company decided not to locate in California because it was too far from its plants in the Midwest. Kentucky was rejected because Erlanger wasn't big enough, and Ann Arbor was rejected because it was too close to Detroit rivals like General Motors and Ford.

Lentz said the company ultimately came up with a list of 100 possibilities that it whittled down to four.

"As we visited those four primary locations, it became quite clear that the Dallas metro area was far and above the best choice," Lentz said. He wouldn't disclose the other three finalists.


Associated Press writer Emily Schmall in Fort Worth, Texas, and AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this report.