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.
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)