by Max Brantley
Also in today's Wall Street Journal, of interest here:
Five years ago, Toyota Motor Corp. launched a factory-building blitz in the U.S. that helped make it the world's largest auto maker. Now the architect of that push and a senior member of the company's founding family are both urging a new strategy for the U.S. -- hit the brakes.
Top Toyota executives are concerned that the car maker may have built too many U.S. factories, in part to build political support by providing new jobs in lots of places. And although Toyota's U.S. sales continue to grow, these executives worry about an uncertain outlook.
At the same time, a cheap yen is making it advantageous for Toyota to increase manufacturing capacity and export cars from Japan. "It's much, much more profitable to produce cars in Japan and ship them all to the U.S. right now, if it wasn't for the political problems that might cause," says a senior executive and management-board member.