Mazda pick 'sweet home Alabama' over NC for $1.6B plant

Toyota and Mazda plan to equally split the cost of the plant, which will build Toyota Corollas and a new small SUV from Mazda.

The new plant -in a state Trump won by 28 points in 2016 - could be a political boost to the Republican president, who has urged automakers to build plants in the United States and add jobs.

The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon from the Alabama State Capitol building in Montgomery by Governor Kay Ivey, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, and executives from both Toyota and Mazda. That is a strong testament to the quality of the location, resources, people and government leadership that Alabama offers.

But during the summer, Toyota President Akio Toyoda denied that Trump's views influenced his decision. "NO WAY! Build plant in USA or pay big border tax", Trump posted on Twitter in early 2017.

After reassessing the market, Toyota Motor Corp. has changed its plan to make Corollas at a plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, now under construction, and instead will produce Tacoma pickups there, Toyota has said.

Still, Toyota and Mazda have said their collaboration will respect mutual independence and equality.

Trump tweeted in March that he wanted "new plants to be built here for cars sold here". "A great investment in American manufacturing!"

There will be two production lines, which are expected to have an annual capacity of some 300,000 units.

The joint plant forms part of a plan unveiled by Toyota in January 2017 to invest $10 billion in the US over the next five years.

Mazda began selling vehicles in North America 50 years ago, this year, with the establishment of affiliate companies in Canada (Mazda Canada, Inc.) in 1968, in the United States (Mazda Motor of America, d/b/a Mazda North American Operations) in 1970, and in Mexico (Mazda Motor de Mexico) in 2006.

The state has offered some road and bridge improvements around the new plan, Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said. With more than 150 Tier 1 and 2 automotive suppliers in the state as well as automakers, there are approximately 57,000 automotive manufacturing jobs in Alabama. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 33 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 46,000 people (more than 36,000 in the U.S.). These states generally have good transportation infrastructure, business-friendly regulators and anti-union politicians. It was behind MI at 19 percent; IN at 12 percent, Kentucky at 11 percent; and OH at 10 percent. It was chosen apparently because it's relatively close to Kentucky, where a Toyota assembly plant is located. "It creates a halo effect that in turn helps attract other projects".

  • Eleanor Harrison