The coronavirus pandemic is costing automakers money in lost sales, but it isn’t stopping Toyota and Mazda from investing 50% more into their under-construction plant in Alabama, raising the investment to $2.3 billion.
The companies are investing an additional $830 million in the project for “cutting-edge” manufacturing technology and additional training for employees at the site.
The two Japanese automakers announced plans to jointly build the new plant in 2018. The facility is designed to build 300,000 vehicles annually: a 50-50 split between a Mazda crossover vehicle and a Toyota sport-utility vehicle.
(Sweet Home Alabama! Toyota-Mazda plant goes to the Cotton State.)
The plant will employ about 4,000 workers once it’s up and running, which is expected to happen next year. They’ve already hired about 600 people with plans to resume accepting applications for production positions later in 2020.
“Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is proud to call Alabama home,” said Mark Brazeal, vice president of Administration at MTM, which is located near Huntsville, Alabama.
“Through strong support from our state and local partners, we have been able to further incorporate cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, provide world-class training for team members and develop the highest quality production processes. As we prepare for the start of production next year, we look forward to developing our future workforce and serving as a hometown company for many years to come.”
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The Japanese automakers are expected to receive $97 million in additional tax incentives for the added investment, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters. State and local governments in Alabama previously provided more than $700 million in tax incentives.
For Toyota, this joint-venture plant will be its 11th U.S. manufacturing facility and represents its continued commitment in the U.S., in addition to the $10 billion investment during the next five years that was announced in January 2017. It’s the company’s second facility near Huntsville and located approximately 14 miles from Toyota’s Alabama plant Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama Inc.
For Mazda, the plant comes online in a significant year. It will mark the start of the company’s second century of operation and second half-century of sales in the U.S. The automaker is enhancing its commitment to the U.S. market and will focus efforts on manufacturing and increasing sales in the country.