Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda have picked Alabama as the site of a new $1.6 billion joint-venture auto manufacturing plant, a person briefed on the decision said Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. It is due to be announced Wednesday afternoon.
States covet auto assembly plants because they typically pay above-average wages and spin off jobs at suppliers and service companies. The plant is supposedly scheduled to open in 2021 and will be built concurrently with a series of upgrades to Toyota's existing Huntsville plant, which were announced in September of 2017 according to Reuters.
Workers at the plant are expected to build 300,000 vehicles per year and produce the Toyota Corolla compact auto starting in 2021.
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.
After reassessing the market, Toyota Motor Corp. has changed its plan to make Corollas at a plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, now under construction, and instead will produce Tacoma pickups there, the company has said. "NO WAY!" Trump tweeted. on January 5, 2017.
The new plant marks a significant milestone for Mazda, making it the zoom-zoom automaker's first US production plant. By building the new Corolla plant in Huntsville, rather than Mexico, it will have easier access to suppliers of Blue Springs plant. Toyota already has a large presence in Huntsville, as Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama already employs 1,450 people.
The Alabama Department of Commerce shows 150 of the large automotive suppliers operate in the state, providing the logistical strength that Kristin Dziczek, a researcher at the Center for Automotive Research in MI, said helped land the plant.
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 USA, threatening crippling tariffs on automakers that didn't build new facilities in the states.
Alabama spent an estimated $250 million to woo Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz to put an auto plant in Tuscaloosa two decades ago. It also has a relatively low unemployment rate of only 3.5%, the lowest rate in the state's history.