Toyota to move 3,000 jobs from Southern California to Texas

<i>This post has been corrected, as indicated below.</i>

Toyota Motor Corp. said it will move 3,000 jobs from Torrance to new North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, over the next three years.

The move will affect 2,000 workers in Toyota’s U.S. sales and marketing arm and 1,000 positions in its financial services business. That will leave about 2,300 Toyota employees in California.

No Toyota workers will remain at the company’s 2-million square foot office complex in Torrance. The company said it has not yet determined what it will do with the property.

The shift is part of a corporate strategy to locate the employees running its engineering and manufacturing, sales and marketing, financial services and certain corporate functions all on one complex.

“Ultimately, enabling greater collaboration and efficiencies across Toyota will help us become a more dynamic, innovative and successful organization in North America,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive of Toyota’s North America region.


“This is the most significant change we’ve made to our North American operations in the past 50 years, and we are excited for what the future holds,” he said.

Altogether, the moves will affect approximately 4,000 employees nationally.

Toyota will shutter its engineering and manufacturing office in Erlanger, Ky. -- near the Cincinnati-area airport -- with the personnel being distributed to a tech center in Ann Arbor, Mich., the new Plano, headquarters and a new facility at the automaker’s Georgetown, Ky., factory.

Toyota officials said that creating a more efficient corporate structure, not cutting costs, was the primary motivation in deciding to build a centralized headquarters in Texas.

Toyota has long been a Southern California fixture. Its first U.S. office opened in a closed Rambler dealership in Hollywood in 1957. The site is now a Toyota dealership. In 1958, its first year of sales, Toyota sold just 288 vehicles — 287 Toyopet Crown sedans and one Land Cruiser. Last year, Toyota sold more than 2.2 million vehicles in the U.S.

The U.S. branch picked Los Angeles for its first headquarters because of proximity to the port complex — where it imported cars — and easy airline access to Tokyo.

As Toyota grew, it opened its national sales and marketing headquarters in Torrance in 1982. The complex, built where its parts distribution warehouse was once located.

But today, about 75% of Toyota-branded vehicles sold in the U.S. are built in North America — many of them at plants in Texas, Mississippi and Kentucky. Moving the U.S. corporate headquarters to Texas puts senior management closer to those factories.

The company said it has committed to providing $10 million in continued funding for local nonprofits and community organizations in California and Kentucky over a five-year period beginning in 2017.

[For the Record, 12:24 p.m. PDT April 28: A previous version of this post incorrectly said about 2,300 Toyota employees would remain in Torrance. Toyota will retain that number of employees in California, but not in Torrance.]