After 26 years in operation, Toyota began shutting down New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. last week and laying off its 4,700 workers. Now the question is what will become of the Fremont, Calif., plant, one of North America's biggest production facilities.
In recent weeks, an electric-vehicle startup called Aurica Motors proposed taking over the plant to produce a new line of EVs. But the oversized NUMMI -- with 5.4 million square feet -- is plant enough to hold a dozen or so EV startups.
Outsiders also speculated this year that NUMMI could be demolished to make way for the future home of the Oakland Athletics, who are itching to vacate their outdated baseball stadium across the bay in Oakland. But that plan appears to have fallen through.
There is a long history of closed California auto plants turning into other things. Ford's Pico Rivera plant, which turned out cars through the 1960s and 1970s, is now the site of a Walmart. General Motors' Van Nuys plant was redeveloped into a shopping center after it closed in the early 1990s. Another Los Angeles-area GM facility was turned into South East High School in 2005.
Of course, the Fremont plant has already been through a momentous transition. GM permanently closed its operations there in 1982. A year later Toyota and General Motors formed their historic joint venture and reopened the plant in 1984.