Toyota Motor Corp. says it still is considering locations in union-heavy Michigan to build a transmission and engine plant.
But one of Michigan's biggest boosters, industry consultant David Cole, says he believes Toyota no longer is serious about the state. Cole says he thinks recent activism by dissident UAW members has effectively killed the deal for Michigan.
"I believe we had a great shot at bringing a Toyota plant here," Cole said from his office at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. "It's now off the track. Indiana looks like the front-runner for it now."
Cole and his colleagues consult with automakers, including Toyota, and provide various support services to Michigan industry. He says he was convinced a Grand Rapids, Mich., site was Toyota's favorite until UAW dissidents in Detroit made news in January.
The dissidents, without the union's blessing, protested proposed wage and benefit cuts at Delphi Corp.
"It didn't help having UAW dissidents picketing at the Detroit auto show this year while auto executives from around the world watched," Cole fumed. "The message was, here's a union that can't control its own people."