They estimate it will create 4,000 jobs.
A few months ago, Toyota and Mazda caused a frenzy amongst 22 states when it announced it would be partnering up to build an assembly plant to produce Corollas and a brand new Mazda crossover right here in the U.S. Among them were states like Indiana, Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi (just to name a few), but the winner -- is Alabama. More specifically, Huntsville, which has a good labor pool and lots of automotive suppliers sending parts close by.
“If you look at the different locations, the site itself was important -- how flat it was, how close it was to rail and highways and all that,” says Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America (and University of Denver's Daniels College of Business Alumni).
It also helps that the city and Alabama state legislatures were able to sweeten the deal with $700 million worth of financial incentives, but Lentz says that they don't choose a location solely based off of economic incentive.
And that makes sense because Toyota already has an existing engine facility in Huntsville and a plant in Mississippi two hours away. Not to mention that the state already produces over one million vehicles per year and approximately 1.7 million automotive engines.
Overall, the move is expected to add 4,000 jobs to Alabama's existing 57,000 automotive manufacturing jobs, and we can expect to see new Mazdas and Toyotas rolling off the line in 2021.
“With this announcement, our world changes overnight,” said Tommy Battle, mayor of Huntsville. “Mazda and Toyota, two of the world’s most innovative automakers, have created a legacy project that will provide jobs for decades to come for Huntsville and Alabama. It vaults Alabama to the top as an industry leader in producing the next generation of cars that will power our nation.”
Yet, some worry that recent slumps in auto sales may mean that there won't be enough buyers for the vehicles produced, but Lentz assured that the plant is needed even in a weak market. After all, the Toyota Corolla has been the world's best-selling vehicle for the past 21 years, and Mazda crossovers are among the most praised.
"We need the Corolla capacity," Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz said. "We sold about 330,000 Corollas last year, and 50,000 in Canada. This plant, with our other Corolla plant in Mississippi, will give us capacity of 310,000. So yes, even in this soft market, we need this capacity."
What are your thoughts, people? Do you drive a Toyota or Mazda? Do you like it? Let us know in the comments below!