Don’t look now, Southern California, but not only did we just lose Toyota to Texas, we did so in part because we’re not, gulp, manly enough.
Toyota announced Monday that it planned to consolidate many of its North American operations at a to-be-built facility in Plano, outside Dallas. (Nice place. Good schools. Pretty cheap cost of living. Many good malls and chain restaurants. Nearest beach: Galveston. Only 300 or so miles, or, in California-speak, about 4 1/2 hours. Also, in summer, like living inside an oven. Spring is nice, except for the tornadoes. Winter not too bad, until the ice storms cometh. Fall? See spring.)
Anyway, the move means a loss of about 3,000 marketing and finance jobs in Torrance.
Which, of course, immediately brought out that raucous species, the California boo birds. They opened their pointy beaks and crowed: “High taxes! Crime! Illegals! Traffic! Regulations! See, we told you the liberal Democrats are running this place into the ground; oh, woe is us, the Golden State, nevermore!”
Which is nonsense, of course. Even Toyota said the move had nothing to do with cost-cutting and everything to do with wanting to centralize its operations, getting it closer to its manufacturing plants in the South. I mean, the company is also closing its engineering and manufacturing office in Erlanger, Ky., but I don’t hear anyone bellyaching about Kentucky’s bad business climate.
So back to the more troubling reason for Toyota saying sayonara to SoCal: that manly thing.
Here’s what my Times colleague Jerry Hirsch was told by one James Rubenstein, an auto industry analyst at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio: “Texas is the most male, macho state in the country. Texas is where they think they can learn more about what big-truck buyers want in their vehicles.... They already have California in its back pocket. Priuses are next to godliness in California.”
Why, I read that and I almost spilled my latte all over my quiche!
It’s one thing to lose jobs because they were stolen from us, fair and square. It’s another to have our manhood questioned.
Not macho? What do we have to do, install rifle racks in our Priuses? (Actually, that might not be a bad idea; wonder if anyone is making those.)
Listen, Toyota, we’re Californians, we’re not in anyone’s back pocket (OK, maybe movie stars; we fawn over them). Sure, we buy Priuses by the boatload, but no, we don’t worship them. We’re not that stupid or shallow. We worship Ferraris and Lambos, Teslas even. You know, cool cars. We just buy Priuses because most of us can’t afford a Tesla. At least, not until we sell our movie script.
Also, we do too know what big-truck buyers want in the vehicles: They want to compensate for certain, other, uh, inadequacies, with big honkin’ trucks that guzzle gas and slide all over the road in the rain, vehicles you can’t park and that are meant to be used on construction job sites but are mostly used to cruise the strip malls of places like Plano.
So go ahead and go, Toyota. Go learn about macho. Go pin your hopes on dopey big trucks.
No hard feelings. We’ll even still buy your Priuses.
Until Tesla — you know, the made-in-California super-electric car — kicks your rear end.
That macho enough for you?