Toyota's First Overseas Plant Ends Production: Looking to the Future in Brazil


In November, production ended at Toyota do Brasil's Sao Bernardo Plant. Its long history was supported by a legendary press machine and a car that pioneered new territory.

This time on Toyota Times News, we visit the Sao Bernardo Plant in Brazil, Toyota’s first overseas plant and one with 60 years of history, which closed its doors last November.

This plant was pivotal in Toyota’s growth in Brazil. It was the center for a pioneering move by Toyota, and a car that became the symbol of Toyota do Brasil, as well as a legendary press machine that has been making parts since before Toyota was founded. It was also a place where Taiichi Ohno, who systematized the Toyota Production System, often came and personally instilled the culture of kaizen.

The decision to close the Sao Bernardo Plant, with its many legacies, was immeasurably difficult.

Masahiro Inoue, Chief Officer of Latin America and Caribbean Region, spoke candidly about nervously going to consult then-President Akio Toyoda about the decision.

Our studio guest is Oyaji Kawai (Executive Fellow Mitsuru Kawai), who joined in the closing ceremony. With 57 years at the genba, how did the final day at the plant look through his eyes? What does the future look like for Toyota in Brazil?

Witness the legacy being carried into the future as they overcome the closure of the Sao Bernardo Plant.

00:00 Opening
01:07 Last day of the plant’s 60 years
02:34 The symbol of Toyota do Brasil, a “Bandeirante”
06:57 Employees watch their plant close
11:51 89 years old, a legendary press machine older than Toyota
15:03 Better TPS than Japan! The plant Taiichi Ohno taught directly
18:05 “Why so apprehensive?” The Chairman’s words that aided the decision
20:39 True value and resolve are only put to the test when it’s time to end a business
23:02 A lifetime in the genba: “Oyaji” talks about the plant’s last day
31:59 A partner taking over the site with a special connection
34:14 Looking to the future in Brazil