Toyota and Mazda choose Alabama for $1.6bn joint plant

It has been reported the companies sought at least $1 billion in incentives.

Top North Carolina economic development officials weren't commenting ahead of Wednesday's expected corporate announcement. A Mazda spokeswoman also declined to comment. 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. In September Toyota announced a $106 million technology upgrade for the Huntsville plant. The commerce chamber, local and state officials declined to comment on Tuesday on plans for the plant.

Workers at the plant are expected to build 300,000 vehicles per year and produce the Toyota Corolla compact auto starting in 2021. "NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax", then-President-Elect Trump tweeted early past year.

"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".

For Toyota, this joint-venture plant will be its 11th USA manufacturing facility and represents its further commitment in the US, in addition to the $10 billion in investment over five years beginning in 2017 announced a year ago. Mazda plans to build new crossover SUVs at the plant.

The two firms previous year formed a capital alliance and announced a plan to build the factory for 1.6 billion dollars in the United States by 2021.

Expected to open in 2021, the plant breaks ground at a time where US auto sales are on a decline, meaning increased pressure to cut costs could jeopardize the automakers' plans to scale up USA production. "A great investment in American manufacturing!"

A decision by Toyota and Mazda to build a joint factory in Alabama instead of rumored rival North Carolina is another miss for one of the few Southeast states never to land a modern carmaker. Last year, Toyota and Mazda agreed to co-develop electric vehicles, connected-car systems, and safety technologies.

Over the last 30 years Toyota, along with German and Asian automakers, has built a second auto industry in the United States, rivaling the operations of the Detroit Three automakers in size and employment, but with newer, and fewer unionized, plants.

Following Pres. Donald Trump's tariff-tough talk in 2016, Toyota was grilled by the then-President-Elect via Twitter about moving manufacturing jobs outside the US, threatening crippling tariffs on automakers that didn't build new facilities in the states. Prior to that, they were reportedly considering more than a dozen states.

The plant would be Alabama's fourth auto assembly plant, following Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Honda in Lincoln and Hyundai in Montgomery.

  • Wendy Palmer