By Jerry Underwood
Made in Alabama
The new plant will have the capacity to build 300,000 vehicles annually, with production split evenly between two lines for each company to produce a new Mazda crossover model that will be introduced to North American markets and the Toyota Corolla.
The joint venture represents a $1.6 billion investment that Mazda and Toyota plan to make with equal funding contributions. The site for the new plant in Huntsville sits just 14 miles from Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Alabama, which produces four-cylinder, V-6 and V-8 engines for several Toyota models.
The new Alabama facility is expected to create up to 4,000 jobs. Production is expected to begin by 2021.
Ivey, speaking at an event in Alabama’s capital city, welcomed the automakers to the state and said she looks forward to a long-lasting relationship that will spark a ripple effect of other investment and employment through automotive suppliers.
“The partnership between Toyota and Mazda will expand innovative automotive manufacturing in Alabama,” Ivey said.
“Their decision to locate this new facility in Huntsville is a testament to the talented workforce in our state. We are proud that this partnership puts Alabama on the forefront of technology in this dynamic global industry.”
Mazda Motor Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Masamichi Kogai and Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda joined Ivey for the announcement.
For Mazda, the plant comes on line in a significant year that marks the start of the company’s second century of operation and second half-century of sales in the U.S. The automaker is enhancing its commitment to the U.S. market and will focus efforts on manufacturing and increasing sales in the country.
“Mazda makes cars with a clear vision of how we want to inspire people, contribute to society and help preserve the beauty of the Earth. By making such cars here in Alabama, we hope that over time our plant will come to occupy a special place in the hearts of our employees and the local community,” Kogai said.
“By making this plant a vibrant part of that community, we hope to work, learn and grow together with the people of Huntsville and Alabama,” he added.
For Toyota, this joint-venture plant will be its 11th U.S. manufacturing facility and represents its further commitment in the U.S., in addition to the $10 billion in investment over five years beginning in 2017 announced a year ago.
“Our investment to establish a new vehicle assembly plant with Mazda builds on the very success we have enjoyed in Alabama, where we produce engines for the North America market,” Toyoda said. “Starting from 2021, I’m confident that we run a highly competitive plant, by bringing together the expertise of Toyota and Mazda as well as the excellent Alabama workforce.
“We are committed to becoming a ‘best-in-town company’ in the city of Huntsville and the state of Alabama, a new hometown for Toyota and Mazda.”
Catalyst for growth
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle hailed the Toyota-Mazda decision as a milestone development for the North Alabama city.
“With this announcement, our world changes overnight,” Battle said. “Toyota and Mazda, two of the world’s most innovative automakers, have created a legacy project that will provide jobs for decades to come for Huntsville and Alabama. It vaults Alabama to the top as an industry leader in producing the next generation of cars that will power our nation.”
Alabama is the fifth-largest producer of cars and light trucks nationally and stands at the center of the growing Southeastern automotive region with a strong automotive presence including Toyota’s engine plant in Huntsville. With more than 150 Tier 1 and 2 automotive suppliers in the state as well as automakers, there are approximately 57,000 automotive manufacturing jobs in Alabama.
“In a single generation, Alabama has become a powerhouse in the auto industry, and the Toyota-Mazda joint-venture manufacturing facility will provide another potent catalyst for sustained growth in the sector,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“We expect the new facility in Huntsville to act as a magnet for substantial new industry investment and job-creation that lifts communities and families across the state,” he added.
In coming months, the new joint venture will be established and site preparations will begin.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.