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Jeff Tyler: Japanese auto dealers said today, despite Toyota’s struggles, the Prius was still the top selling car in Japan last month. Meanwhile, Toyota is trying to close the only car-making plant in California. The plant was a joint-operation with General Motors, but GM pulled out last summer and Toyota plans to end production this month. Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler says California is trying hard to save the plant.
Jeff Tyler: The plant is located in Fremont, Calif., where unemployment is already around 16 percent. When it closes, another 5,000 people will lose their jobs. A new economic study finds that indirectly, the closure could cost the state an additional 20,000 jobs, plus more than a billion dollars in lost tax revenues.
U.C. Berkeley professor Harley Shaiken led the study. He says Toyota would also lose money if the plant closes.
Harley Shaiken: The total labor cost at this factory is less than what Toyota pays at its main plant in Georgetown, Kent.
But Toyota spokesman Mike Goss sees it differently:
Mike Goss: After GM left, we studied it carefully, but in this current economic environment, it’s just not feasible for one automaker to run that facility.
Toyota has pledged $250 million for workers losing their jobs. And Goss says the decision to close the plant is final.
California officials aren’t giving up yet. They’re headed for Japan, where they will make their case directly to Toyota executives.
In Los Angeles, I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.
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