Alabama gains auto industry clout with new Toyota-Mazda plant

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Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda on Wednesday announced plans to build a huge $1.6 billion joint-venture plant in Alabama that will eventually employ about 4,000 people. Starting in 2021, Toyota will be building its Corolla there, while Mazda will produce a new crossover, yet to be named. " Elsewhere in the state, the auto industry continued to power forward in 2017".

For Mazda, the plant will begin production the same year that will mark the company's second century of operation and second half-century of sales in the U.S.

Toyota had originally planned to build a new Corolla plant in Mexico, but after the joint venture plans were announced in August, Toyota changed course and chose to build the Tacoma pickup at the plant in Mexico and the new Corolla at the new USA plant.

Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motors, said the new facility is something of a homecoming since the company already has one plant in the state.

Customer response tothe new Odyssey has been very encouraging, the automaker says.

Toyota has 10 existing USA factories, including an existing engine plant in Huntsville which opened in 2001 and employs 1,450 workers. It is a finalist for the North American Utility of the Year Award, which will be presented next week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. So, what will be built at this new facility? And since the start of vehicle production in Alabama in 2001, Honda has built almost 4.5 million vehicles and engines.

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Several states competed for the plant, which will be able to turn out 300,000 vehicles per year. Toyota Corolla sales fell 14% with production under 309,000 vehicles.

Just a year ago, when an Asian company called Foxconn announced it would build a $10 billion flat-screen factory in Wisconsin, it emerged that North Carolina had offered $570 million.

Alabama is the fifth largest state in terms of auto production, with more than 1 million cars built there annually. In September, Indiana-based Autocar revealed plans for a $120 million, 746-job plant in Center Point and Birmingham that will produce heavy-duty cab-over-engine trucks.

"Our workforce, well trained and committed to producing high-quality vehicles and parts, is the reason these companies are deepening their roots here, bringing even more new jobs and opportunity for communities across the state".

"This project will really put Alabama at the center of the Southern automotive industry", Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said.

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