Huntsville, Alabama Toyota-Mazda plant announcement highlights shift in auto production to southeastern US

 

Huntsville, Alabama Toyota-Mazda plant announcement highlights shift in auto production to southeastern US

By
Ed Hightower

12 January 2018

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced that Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda had selected the Huntsville area for a joint “megasite” production facility that would produce as many as 300,000 passenger vehicles per year and employ 4,000 workers. The facility will produce Toyota’s Corolla sedan and a new Mazda crossover SUV when it opens in 2021.

Both companies also plan to use the new site for development of cost-effective electric vehicles.

The Toyota-Mazda site is the latest in a series of German and Japanese automotive “transplants” locating in the southeastern United States over the past three decades. These include the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi; the Toyota truck complex in San Antonio, Texas; Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Suzuki in Rome, Georgia; and BMW in Greenville, South Carolina. Toyota alone has 10 manufacturing plants in the southeastern US.

Alabama hosts plants for Hyundai, Honda and Mercedes-Benz, and is the fifth largest state in terms of auto production, with more than 1 million cars built there annually. It is already home to several Toyota parts suppliers and an engine plant, also in the Huntsville area. The old industrial city of Birmingham in the northern part of the state has earned the moniker “the new Detroit.”

State and local governments in the southeast spare no expense in tax breaks and other incentives to attract new production sites. The Toyota-Mazda plant reportedly came with $1 billion in tax subsidies; the plant itself will cost $1.6 billion. One estimate puts total government handouts in the Southeast to automakers at over $4.2…

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