Toyota plans to hire about 250 engineers to help it continue a shift from global to localized product development. The bulk of those new employees will be based out of the maker’s new R&D center in suburban Detroit, but it will also open a new high-tech facility in Silicon Valley.
The move reflects the significant shift in Toyota’s whole management structure. It has traditionally operated as a global monolith but is giving increasing autonomy to major regional operations, especially those in the U.S., the maker’s largest market.
The shift is underscored by the launch, this week, of the 2013 Toyota Avalon at the New York Auto Show. The flagship sedan was developed entirely in the States, largely in the Motor City, with additional styling at CALTY, the advanced Toyota design center in Southern California.
Toyota opened a major test track and engineering center in the Detroit suburbs several years ago “because that’s where the expertise and supplier base” is located, said Bob Carter, head of company’s Toyota division in the U.S.
Indeed, most of the world’s automakers, major and minor, now have substantial engineering facilities in Detroit, including Asian brands Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota.
The industry giant already employs 1,000 at the suburban facility. And many of those were veterans of Detroit’s Big Three – often those released during the cutbacks the maker’s were forced into during the recent recession that pushed Chrysler and General Motors into Chapter 11.
Ironically, as TheDetroitBureau.com reported earlier this week, the situation has turned around and there’s now a hiring binge underway. That has made it increasingly difficult for many employers to find the engineering and design talent they need.
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At a job fair last weekend, there were more than 1,000 jobs available, yet barely 150 eligible employees showed up. Toyota may soon face the same challenge building up its staff as it puts out the Help Wanted sign.