The end of the world was coming.
At the start of the 21st century, Toyota was the biggest name in automotive production.
Its cars were among the most popular brands in the world, and its engines were some of the most efficient.
Yet the automaker was struggling to keep pace with rising fuel costs, as well as rising emissions.
It was struggling because its brand was also facing a lot of scrutiny, as the Japanese car maker struggled with growing public resentment over pollution and corruption.
In the meantime, the automaking giants of China and the US were growing rapidly.
Both were struggling with rising consumer demand and mounting pollution problems, but also with rising expectations of cars being the future of travel and leisure.
In 2017, Toyota announced that it would merge with its China unit, effectively putting it out of business.
But the company wasn’t finished.
It continued to build its business in China, while simultaneously raising its output in the US and abroad.
As the years went on, the Chinese market grew, and so did its brand.
In 2020, Toyota set a new mark for car sales worldwide: a record 5.25 billion.
Then came the US market, and soon after, China’s.
After years of being the world’s most popular automaker, its share of the market dropped below one-third in 2020.
To counter that, it had to make changes.
Its US operations were struggling to meet demand.
Toyota had to shift production to Mexico, and build a new plant there.
But that meant moving the entire production line to Mexico.
The result was a steep cutback in output.
It had to cut costs to meet a target of half its 2020 output.
And it was also forced to lay off tens of thousands of employees in the United States, with only about 200 jobs at the new plant in New Mexico.
Toyota’s next move was to slash its global workforce by more than a third.
And while it did this with fewer people at the factory in China and a few fewer at the plant in Mexico, it also eliminated almost a quarter of its local workforce in the first place.
At the same time, the company started to reduce its emissions.
This was good news for its bottom line, since it meant the plant’s emissions would be reduced by about a third by 2020.
But it also meant the company had to find a way to maintain the level of production in China that it had achieved in 2020 and keep up with its new target.
So it decided to sell its plant in China.
And that meant reducing production in the Americas.
The US was not going away.
And if it didn’t, the problem would grow even worse.
In order to make the shift to Mexico and the move to Mexico work, Toyota needed to sell enough cars in the country to maintain its existing output there.
It also needed to be able to make enough money to offset the costs of the new plants in Mexico and China.
So in 2021, Toyota decided to do both things.
First, it decided that it wanted to move its entire US production to its Mexico plant, where it could keep all the jobs it had at the existing plant in the city of Puebla, Mexico.
And in order to do that, the US would have to be in the driver’s seat.
Toyota needed that, because the company wanted to have a significant amount of production left in the USA and in Mexico to offset its costs and to offset some of its growing emissions.
And Mexico was not the only country that Toyota wanted to shift to.
In 2018, Ford announced that they would begin building their new assembly plant in Texas.
The company had no plans to move their existing assembly plant to Mexico any time soon.
It just wanted to build their new plant.
So the two companies went to Mexico together.
The plan was to build a plant that would employ around 4,000 people and make about 6 million cars.
And it was a success.
By 2020, the new Toyota plant in Pueblo had doubled its production capacity.
By 2025, Toyota had more than doubled its output.
But the problem was that its US plants were not producing as much.
They were producing more than they had in 2020, but less than they did in 2020 in the same part of the country.
As Toyota continued to move production overseas, the carmakers around the world were beginning to realise the need to get their manufacturing to where it needed to go.
In 2019, BMW announced it would start assembling its vehicles in Mexico.
In 2021, General Motors announced that their US plant would begin producing cars there as well.
In 2024, Volkswagen announced that its plant would be moved to Mexico by 2020, while in 2025, Ford began building its new assembly facility in Mexico as well, bringing its output there to close to the level it had in 2018.
Toyota was not alone in this trend.
The number of cars built in Mexico was already