Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda (left), Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Mazda Motor Corp. President and CEO Masamichi Kogai, and Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield (right) gathered in Huntsville, Alabama, Wednesday to announce the site of a $1.6 billion joint-venture auto plant that will employ up to 4,000 people and start production in 2021.
Cleveland, Ohio – Toyota is doubling down on the Yellowhammer State, opening a joint plant with Mazda in Huntsville, Alabama, a city that already houses a massive Toyota engine plant.
Partnered since 2015, Mazda and Toyota officials announced plans last year to build the joint plant with targets of a 300,000-vehicle annual capacity and 4,000 jobs (paying up to $50,000 per year). Production is set to begin in 2021.
This will be Mazda’s only manufacturing presence in North America. In the past, the company had partnered with Ford in Flat Rock, Michigan, making Mazda 6 sedans alongside Ford Mustang muscle cars. But that joint venture ended in 2012, a few years after Ford sold its stake in Mazda.
“We hope that over time our plant will come to occupy a special place in the hearts of our employees and the local community. By making this plant a vibrant part of that community, we hope to work, learn and grow together with the people of Alabama and Huntsville,” Mazda Motor Corp. President and CEO Masamichi Kogai said.
The new plant will be about 14 miles away from Toyota’s engine plant.
” We will run a highly competitive plant, by bringing together the expertise of Toyota and Mazda as well as the excellent Alabama workforce,” said Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda. “We are committed to being another ‘best-in town’ company in the city of Huntsville and the state of Alabama.”
Production at the plant will split evenly between the companies, producing the Toyota Corolla compact car and an as-yet-unreleased crossover from Mazda. The two companies plan to split the $1.6 billion price tag evenly.
Alabama’s history as an auto-producing region started in 1998 when Mercedes built a plant there. That facility produces the GLE and GL-class SUVs, C-series cars, and the GLE coupe. Honda followed a year later with a plant that makes Odyssey minivans, Ridgeline pickups, Pilot SUVs, Acura MDX crossovers, and V-6 engines.
Toyota joined the Alabama auto industry in 2001 with an engine plant in Huntsville. Until the Mazda-Toyota joint plant, the most recent Alabama automaker had been Hyundai. The Korean automaker opened a plant near Montgomery in 2002 that makes the Elantra compact car, Sonata mid-sized sedan, the Santa Fe crossover, and 4-cylinder engines.
The state produced more than 1 million cars in 2016.
About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 17 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.