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March 26, 2010

NUMMI

A car plant in Fremont California that might have saved the U.S. car industry. In 1984, General Motors and Toyota opened NUMMI as a joint venture. Toyota showed GM the secrets of its production system: How it made cars of much higher quality and much lower cost than GM achieved. Frank Langfitt explains why GM didn't learn the lessons—until it was too late.

Courtesy of New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.

This episode contains interviews with the following individuals: David Champion, Jeffrey Liker, John Shook, Bruce Lee and Joel Smith of United Auto Workers / UAW, Rick Madrid, Billy Haggerty, Richard Aguilar, Earl Ferguson, Ernie Schaefer, Mark Hogan, Steve Bera, Larry Spiegel, Dick Fuller, Geoff Weller and James Womack.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass introduces the story of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., aka NUMMI. In 1984, General Motors and Toyota opened NUMMI as a joint venture. Toyota showed GM the secrets of its production system: How it made cars of much higher quality and much lower cost than GM achieved. But today, GM cars still don't have the quality of Japanese imports, GM is bankrupt and on March 31, NUMMI will be closed, sending thousands of car workers looking for jobs. In this hour-long story, NPR Automotive Correspondent Frank Langfitt tells the story of NUMMI and why GM—and the rest of the American car business—wasn't able to learn from it more quickly. (4 minutes)

Act One

The rise of NUMMI, or how one of the worst auto plants in America started producing some of its best cars, thanks to lessons learned from the Toyota production system. (25 minutes)

Act Two

Why did it take so many years for GM to begin implementing the lessons of NUMMI across the company? NPR Automotive Correspondent Frank Langfitt continues his story. (26 minutes)

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