Mazda Toyota Manufacturing will have to wait a while before it manufactures any automobiles. The jointly operated facility in Huntsville, Alabama won’t open next spring as planned. It’s delayed on account of the coronavirus outbreak.
Designed to produce collaborative crossovers, the facility came to be after state and local governments floated $800 million in incentives to temp the automakers. Apparently good enough, the $1.6-billion project launched under the assumption that the first of two production lines would be operational by April of 2021. That date has been pushed back indefinitely as Toyota and Mazda assess the situation.
Last year, Mercedes-Benz committed to a Tuscaloosa treat in the form of a billion-dollar upgrade to its existing Deep South facility. Details have surfaced on how that cheddar will be spent, including the construction of a new battery factory for the company’s future EV endeavors.
Mercedes has been entrenched into Alabama for about 20 years now, making SUVs and crossovers that are both sold here and exported to other markets. With this investment in electrification, there’s every chance they’ll be in the area for another two decades.
Toyota announced yesterday that its plans to invest $10 billion in the United States, revealed earlier this year, will grow by another $374 million with big spending at five different factories in five different states.
Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Alabama, and Missouri will all benefit. Though it’s unlikely the investments will directly translate to much in the way of new employment — Toyota promises 50 new jobs in Alabama — Toyota says “these investments will help to ensure the stability of the plants’ employment levels in the future.”
At the core of the investments? Toyota is spending money to enable greater production of the new TNGA 2018 Toyota Camry’s 2.5-liter engines and hybrid transaxles. Why America? “The investment is part of our long-term commitment to build more vehicles and components in the markets in which we sell them.”
Toyota sells 200,000 vehicles per month in the United States.
Mercedes-Benz is investing $1 billion into its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, assembly operations in order to facilitate the production of its first EQ-branded SUVs in 2020. The investment, timed to roughly coincide with the beginning of Mercedes-Benz ML production in Alabama, is expected to result in the hiring of another 600 employees.
In the near term, Mercedes-Benz has been open with its doubts regarding the profitability of pure electric vehicles. Evidently, the long-term view is different. And it probably doesn’t hurt to pour more money into a U.S. operations hub that accounts for nearly half the vehicles sold by the automaker in America.
Through the first four months of 2017, Germany-based automakers and their respective subsidiary brands have sold 413,000 new vehicles in the United States.
At a minimum, 28 percent of those vehicles were built in the United States at assembly plants in Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. According to Automotive News, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen combined to produce 281,519 vehicles, the bulk of which were destined for export.
But to avoid even a faint whiff of statistical manipulation, TTAC has compiled the complete U.S. sales and production picture for each of these manufacturers. We present them to you with [s]no[/s] limited commentary.
Throughout much of the third-generation Honda Pilot’s tenure, U.S. sales have not measured up to the success of the previous-generation model, though not for lack of demand.
In a market gone mad for SUVs and crossovers, three other vehicles have constrained production of the Pilot in Lincoln, Alabama. In addition to the Pilot, American Honda builds the Honda Odyssey in Lincoln, along with the Acura MDX. The second-generation Ridgeline started rolling off the Alabama line in May 2016.
As a result, Honda dealers have had a difficult time getting their hands on enough Pilots to sate the predictably high level of interest in a respected three-row crossover nameplate. Heading into December, for instance, Honda only had 36 days of Pilot supply according to Automotive News, about half the current industry average.
But with an all-new 2018 Odyssey about to pick up steam and the Ridgeline reaching a second-gen high of 4,085 sales in December, the Pilot needs room to breathe.
Daimler announced Friday that it would spend $1.3 billion in its Tuscaloosa, Alabama factory to upgrade its equipment and technology, and to also add a 1.3 million square-foot body shop.
The investment will also add 300 jobs to the plant, which produces the C-Class and GL-class — and perhaps GLT? — and work is reportedly already underway. The plant has been open since 1997 and has predominantly produced SUVs, although its future products are less clear.
Mercedes is reportedly preparing to make a truck, based on the Nissan Navara, to release in global markets. In Frankfurt, the updated Nissan Navara and related Renault Alaskan made their debuts, although only the Navara will have a life in the U.S. — probably as the next Frontier. Mercedes would need to produce its pickups in the NAFTA zone to avoid a Chicken Tax if they were to sell one here. (Sprinter doesn’t care.)
Though Daimler senior management has said repeatedly that the decision to organize the MBUSI plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was up to the workers on the floor, Daimler works council boss Michael Brecht is heading there in a few weeks to explore the possibility with the United Auto Workers.
The National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that the U.S. branch of Mercedes-Benz violated the right to organize among its employees at the automaker’s Vance, Ala. plant by prohibiting the distribution of union literature in common areas outside working hours.