Toyota Building New SUV in Alabama, Not the Corolla

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Toyota Motor Corp announced on Wednesday it would be building a new sport utility vehicle at its $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama, rather than the Corolla. This brings its strategy in line with Mazda, which announced it would also be building an SUV at the facility earlier this year.

Officially, Toyota said the change was due to “changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs,” while slipping in a mention of how well the RAV4 has been selling for good measure.

They’ve earned some bragging rights, however. The RAV4 cleared 427,168 U.S. deliveries last year, a sizable increase over 2017’s 407,594 units and a massive leap over 2016’s 352,139. That also ought to clear up why they’ve decided to stick with utilities and crossovers.

Toyota reported that construction remains on schedule and hiring has already begun. The factory is estimated to furnish up to 4,000 new jobs in the region and increase the company’s capacity by 300,000 vehicles annually.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. aims to commence production of the new (and yet-to-be announced) model in 2021. Nothing has been confirmed but platform sharing with Mazda is a given. Meanwhile, Corolla assembly will continue in Blue Springs at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi.

[Image: Toyota]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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15 of 18 comments
  • Zipster Zipster on Jul 10, 2019

    The recent enactment of new laws in Alabama have prompted the call for consumer boycotts of the state. Toyota is obviously not concerned.

    • See 9 previous
    • Hummer Hummer on Jul 12, 2019

      @Hummer True, which is a whole different can of worms

  • Ravenuer Ravenuer on Jul 10, 2019

    Is it my eyes or are these two RHD?

  • PandaBear PandaBear on Jul 10, 2019

    More likely due to potential issues with tariff. It is cheaper to import a Corolla and local build the SUV than the other way around. Them "buy American" crowd are more likely to buy SUVs than a Corolla anyways.

  • StudeDude StudeDude on Jul 11, 2019

    It will be interesting to see how much product cross pollination occurs between Toyota and Mazda at this facility when it opens.