By on January 10, 2018

2016 Mazda CX9 rear - Image: Mazda

It looks like Alabama has won out over North Carolina in the battle to secure a massive, $1.6 billion joint assembly plant. The factory, a partnership between Toyota and Mazda (which, as of last summer, Toyota owns a 5 percent stake in), is reportedly headed to Huntsville, Alabama, and should give the smaller automaker the American capacity it needs to boost crossover sales.

Sources tell Reuters that company officials and government representatives will make an announcement today at the future factory site. Not only does the new plant herald lots of new jobs, it also means a new model.

The Alabama site makes sense for both automakers, as Toyota already has an engine plant in the area, and the Deep South locale keeps both companies relatively safe from UAW organization. A union attempt to break into the Southern auto workforce at Nissan’s Mississippi plant last year met with defeat.

The plant, said to be located at the Huntsville Mega Site, would bring 4,000 jobs to the region, with output reaching some 300,000 vehicles per year. It’s capacity both companies need. Toyota plans to shift Corolla production from Ontario to Alabama, rather than overburden its planned (but pared back) Guanajuato, Mexico plant. The automaker’s south-of-the-border facilities will instead crank out extra Tacomas — a vehicle Americans can’t seem to get enough of.

For Mazda, the automaker’s first U.S. plant means a wholly new model targeted specifically at American buyers. Sales haven’t reached a target laid out by CEO Masamichi Kogai in 2013, and production constraints, coupled with a limited crossover lineup, plays a large role in that. (U.S. Mazda sales reached a high point in 2015, falling each year since.) Last year, Kogai said the new plant would build a new crossover, with introduction set for 2021.

We don’t know much about Mazda’s new mystery vehicle, only that it’s tailored for U.S. buyers and will supposedly to fit into the brand’s lineup without cannibalizing sales of the CX-3, CX-5, and CX-9. The automaker certainly expects to sell a lot of them. Once up and running, Mazda plans to devote all of its 150,000-vehicle capacity at the plant to this new crossover — at least at first.

[Image: Mazda]

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37 Comments on “Joint Toyota-Mazda Assembly Plant Headed to Alabama: Report...”


  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Whatever the new model is it needs to be better than the awful CX-7.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    This would add to Mercedes (Tuscaloosa), Hyundai (Montgomery), and Honda (Talladega) already in the state- not including ancillary manufacturing operations for parts or the spinoff economy… and not to mention auto plants in neighboring states, Kia (West Point/south of Atlanta), VW (Chattanooga), GM (Spring Hill), Nissan (Smyrna), Toyota (Blue Springs/Tupelo), and Nissan (Canton/Jackson MS) as Steph mentioned.

    That’s a hefty dent in the regional economy! And a dollar of wages goes pretty far in that part of the country.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      Don’t forget BMW in SC. I am guessing at this point the industrial/transplant manufacturer base in the southeast employs more actual Americans than the UAW rust belt traditional Big 3 factories.

      Toyota, Honda and Nissan, in particular, are likely better corporate citizens in this country than any of the Big 2.5. They’re actually still investing in manufacturing here and building new plants. The “domestics” are outsourcing more to China and they like to make big news of new vehicles coming to US factories (Ranger), but they’re overseas engineered designed R&D products that are going to be assembled here with high content foreign parts.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Do you have any proof to back that up? Or just wishful thinking?

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          The truth is that Ford, GM and FCA employ 2.5 times the number of employees in the U.S. than the Japanese transplants. Ford alone employs more than they do, combined.

          So, please continue with the “domestics hate us but Toyota cares!” bull$h¡t.

        • 0 avatar
          NN

          Not wishful thinking at all. The wish is that Ford/GM/Chrysler had the business capabilities to profitably continue to build vehicles in nearly all categories in the USA. Instead, they seem to think trucks & SUV’s only. Also, I’m talking USA, not North America.

          The Japanese makers alone already build more cars in the USA than the domestics. Of course trucks make the difference, although Chevy’s and Rams are often Mexican/Canadian made.

          The 2016 made-in-America index says there are 42 automotive plants in the USA, 25 operated by US-based manufacturers, so 17 to the foreign brands (18 now after this article). We also know many of those transplant factories are behemoths (Toyota in Kentucky, Nissan in Smyrna).

          • 0 avatar
            JDG1980

            “Ford/GM/Chrysler had the business capabilities to profitably continue to build vehicles in nearly all categories in the USA”

            No. Ford is in the process of basically discontinuing sedans because no one wants them any more. Even making them in China still won’t be profitable.

          • 0 avatar
            conundrum

            No, 19. The new Volvo plant in Charlotte will be no 18.

          • 0 avatar
            NN

            …and here we go, timely article. 2018 is the year that foreign automakers will reach parity on US production with domestics:

            https://finance.yahoo.com/news/toyota-plant-puts-foreign-car-053000871.html

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Uhmm, GM and Ford have expanded manufacturing in the US.

        The Japanese Big 3 all have plants in Mexico, as does Mazda.

        Honda imports the Civic hatch from the UK, the Fit and HR-V from Mexico has even imported Chinese-built Fits to Canada.

        Toyota imports the Tacoma from Mexico, as well as the Yaris (rebadged Mazda2) from Mazda’s Mexico facility.

        Nissan builds the Versa and Sentra at its Mexico plant.

        There was talk of Toyota and Honda shifting production of the Corolla and Civic to Mexico as well, but those plans have been placed on hold depending on what happens to NAFTA.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Think Honda may also import some CR-Vs from Mexico as they have another plant there which produces the CR-V.

          In addition, GM is the ONLY auto-maker to produce BOTH its compact and subcompact sedans (Cruze and Sonic) in the US.

          At best, probably just breaking even on every Sonic they build in Michigan.

    • 0 avatar
      Heino

      Don’t forget Airbus in Huntsville, that is a lot of talent in addition to NASA. What I don’t understand is the more expensive Tacoma being produced in MX, but the Corolla is moving from ON to AL.

      • 0 avatar
        a5ehren

        The Airbus factory is in Mobile. Boeing’s presence in North AL is a Delta IV rocket assembly plant in Decatur and a ton of R&D supporting NASA and DOD around Redstone Arsenal.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Don’t forget the $1 billion in tax breaks this plant will receive.

    *All* the kids are doing it.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Should help Mazda to forget about adding turbo-4’s to their line up next decade and go EV.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The only Mazda vehicle with the potential to sell 150,000 units is a replacement for the cx-5.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Now imagine the RAV-4 and CX-5 shared a platform.

      And the C-HR and CX-3.

      And the Highlander and CX-9.

      If Toyota and Mazda run a plant together, you have to think of the combined sales.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        1. why? both can make $
        2. both junk. One for comfort, another for powertrain/suspension
        3. ~lander has nice platform, its what attached to it that sucks
        4. no

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        The article specifically talks about Mazda using its share of the plant to build one vehicle at a volume of 150,000 units/year. If you have other information please let us know!

        I suspect Mazda will build the cx-5 and a new crossover there. Toyota will use its 150,000 unit share for more of its ugly crossovers.

  • avatar
    Marcus36

    Don’t forget Toyota already has a car and truck engine plant in Alabama, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama TMMAL.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Yep- that’s part of the ancillary manufacturing I mentioned. There’s a lot more to the local and regional economies than just the assembly plants themselves- past, present, and future.

      Mercedes is about to build a battery factory as part of their manufacturing complex in Tuscaloosa, for example.

      That’s the sound of jobs and taxes ;)

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    Besides the cash incentives handed out by the state, the future site of the factory is more or less “shovel ready” courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Authority. It even comes with it’s own 500 kV power substation, convenient road links to I-65 / I-565, and a rail spur to Norfolk Southern’s main east-west line in the area. Also it’s within about 10 miles of Huntsville International Airport, which has a 12,600 foot runway and substantial cargo terminal operations. They chose a pretty good spot.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      We also already have a Toyota Engine plant off of SR 255 / Pulaski Pike. I honestly think though the plant will end up bringing more people to the city than hiring within the area. Not a bad thing, but Huntsville/Athens/Decatur really isn’t known for a manufacturing Hub.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Gee, that Federal spending/investment in infrastructure (via the TVA) doesn’t pay off (according to some).

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Mazda3-based Corolla sounds good.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Just so long as it isn’t the other way around.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        In the Mazda/Ford joint ventures Mazda did a good job of keeping a little bit of the magic going even in the Ford versions. I owned a 1997 Escort wagon that was part of the Mazda/Ford Escort/Protege joint development. Still one of the best handling cars I’ve ever owned and I know the Ford was probably a hair softer than the Mazda in the suspension department.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Mazda owners also benefited. Because aftermarket parts for Protege were inexpensive. I remember that I replaced front Rotors and pads on 14yo car for $100. And it wasn’t bottom no-brand parts. Same age Nissan 240 each rotor was $70.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        @JohnTaurus, you can say that again. I had a Corolla rental for three weeks last year, and it is the very definition of bland.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    s/I guess we can give up on that Mazda 6 based midsize for Fiatsler.

    Sorry Sergio.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I’d say that the state of Alabama is off to a rousing start in 2018! First a national championship, now this!

  • avatar
    mzr

    Don’t do this Mazda. Toyota is a vampire, look at what happened to Subaru when they partnered with Toyota. Boring, boring, boring.


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