DETROIT — General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Co. said Monday they are asking the federal government to set aside an order that would disband their joint car-making venture in the Bay Area in 1996.
The move to keep New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. alive indefinitely came as a surprise to some analysts, who had expected Toyota to buy out its struggling partner as the Japanese auto maker sought to expand production in the United States.
But an effort by Toyota to take control of Nummi's Fremont operations could have inflamed already high trade tensions, particularly if seen as cutting into GM's already shrinking market share.
"This is a politically correct move on Toyota's part," said Chris Cedergren, an analyst with Santa Ana-based AutoPacific Group.
A Nummi official said the 50-50 joint venture has benefited both car makers. Toyota gained access to a U.S. production facility at a reasonable cost; GM learned Japan's lean production techniques firsthand.