Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Toyota Positioned to Enter US Market After TPP Approval

If you're feeling self-conscious that your new Toyota Camry doesn't quite match your living situation, then it's OK. Now you can have a generic beige house to match your generic beige sedan!

Toyota has been in the business of mass-producing modular homes for almost forty years. It's not exactly a secret; there was apparently a big media blitz to announce newer manufacturing initiatives back in 2006. But they're only doing it in Japan, and it's not nearly as well-advertised as the 2014 Corolla.

 The automaker began building houses in 1975 on an assembly line just like its cars. A handful of Toyota dealerships also sold housing plans. The goal, Toyota said at the time, was "truly wanting to make Japanese homes better."

Call it Toyota's vision of what Sears did in the early half of the 20th century.

In the late 1990s (you know, when the Prius made its debut), Toyota began looking at more environment-conscious manufacturing choices.

Toyota began operating on three major principles that ensured future housing production would be green-friendly. First, they would develop and use products that would meet environmental safety guidelines. Houses would be built with materials and technology that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, use materials with smaller concentrations of formaldehyde and ensure that all houses would be sustainable for at least 30 years.

Next, they made sure the construction process would reduce waste, increase water conservation and lessen its impact on global warming.

Finally, Toyota would partner with businesses that were also green-friendly, making sure that all aspects of production from suppliers to builders left the smallest footprint.

Over the last three years, Toyota has produced more than 5,000 homes each year.

Looking back at the auto industry in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, we saw imports like Datsun (Nissan), Toyota and Honda just beginning to make inroads into the US because we no longer wanted those boats that the Big Three; Ford, GM and Chrysler; were building. Compact, fuel efficient cars were in demand and the Japanese automakers were more than happy to provide them. They now have built some of the most efficient auto factories in America and are leaders in the field. In NASCAR, Chrysler is out and Toyota is in.

Fast forward to today and these same importers are waiting for our housing market to want what they offer. First will be the imported models followed quickly by Sony, Toyota and other foreign manufacturers buying and building factories here.

With the US signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership looming, a lot of tariffs and restrictions on Pacific Rim built homes would be lifted.


Shawn Corkrean said...

This is really interesting. I think land development/production home building using some sort of hybrid method (modular combined with stick) is the future. I have no idea what the future holds, but I do believe it will look different than the current manufacturer-builder business model that is in place today.

Modular construction methods seem to have a real chance to become more mainstream. The potential irony will be that as it becomes more popular, it won't be called modular home building, it will probably just be called home building. It will be a victory for modular construction methodologies. The challenge will be for all of us currently in the business to adapt.

Steve L said...

It appears site builders with employee problems has the most to lose with our new President and the signing of the TPP. The stigma and perception by Zoning officials, Public, Realtors and Appraisers are still a mountain to climb