Manufacturing

Toyota, Mazda investing $830 million more in Alabama plant

The Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant construction in Alabama was delayed by COVID-19.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM), a joint-venture between Mazda Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation, announced an additional $830 million investment into the new Alabama plant. This brings the total amount committed to the project to $2.311 billion, up from the $1.6 billion originally announced in 2018.

The money will go toward adding more cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to the production lines and providing enhanced trainman got its workforce, estimated to be up to 4,000 employees. These manufacturing technologies will support the to-be-announced Mazda crossover and Toyota SUV that will be produced at the plant.

2021 Toyota Corolla Cross Toyota recently introduced the 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross in global markets, but it's not coming to America ... yet. Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

"Toyota's presence in Alabama continues to build excitement about future opportunities that lie ahead, both for our economy and for the residents of our great state," Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said. "Mazda and Toyota's increased commitment to the development of this manufacturing plant reiterates their belief in the future of manufacturing in America and the potential for the state of Alabama to be an economic leader in the wake of unprecedented economic change."

The new facility will have the capacity to produce up to 150,000 units of a future Mazda crossover vehicle and up to 150,000 units of the Toyota SUV each year. MTM has already hired approximately 600 employees to date, with plans to resume accepting applications for production positions later in 2020.

"Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is proud to call Alabama home. 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," Mark Brazeal, VP of Administration at MTM said. "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."

"This newest investment by our partners at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing shows the company's continued confidence in the ability of our community to provide a strong, skilled workforce to meet the demands for quality and reliability. We look forward to the day when the first vehicles roll off the line," said City of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

"We are excited to learn of this additional investment being made by Mazda Toyota Manufacturing," said Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly. "We continue to be grateful to MTM for their belief in our county and look forward to our partnership with them for many years to come."

Full-scale construction of the plant continues, with 75 to 100 percent completion on roofing, siding, floor slabs, ductwork, fire protection and electrical. Construction on the facility was hampered by the outbreak of COVID-19 causing a months-long delay in the projected opening of the facility.

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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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Vehicle sales numbers

Toyota has sold over 50 million Corollas

Toyota has sold tens of millions of Corollas over the last 55 years.

Toyota

The Toyota Corolla entered its 12th generation in 2019, after more than 50 years on sale. Now, in 2021, the automaker says the car has reached another benchmark, this time with an almost unbelievable number attached to it. In Today, Toyota says that in July 2021, it sold the 50-millionth Corolla. That's almost one Corolla sold for every six Americans alive today, though the sales total includes international vehicles as well.


1969 Toyota Corolla The Corolla's frugal powertrain helped it grow quickly in the United States.Toyota


The Corolla debuted in 1966 but didn't make its way to our shores until spring 1968. Sold as a 1969 model, the car had a starting price of around $1,700 at a time when the median household income was $7,700. The first cars had a short-stroke 1,077-cc four-cylinder engine, 12-inch wheels, and a four-speed manual transmission. That powertrain produced only 60 horsepower, which was good for the car to (eventually) reach 60 mph in about 17 seconds.

Though the car's quality and design helped, it was the oil crisis in the early 1970s that really pushed it to the top of buyers' lists. Big American cars powered by V8 engines fell out of favor as fuel rationing and higher prices took hold. The early Corolla's fuel economy of over 35 mpg helped it earn a place in many Americans' driveways as a result.


2021 Toyota Corolla Cross 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation


Toyota notes that it was building Corollas in the United States by the mid-1980s and says that the current generation car is built at its manufacturing facility in Mississippi. The automaker's new joint plant with Mazda, which is located in Huntsville, Alabama, will start building the new Corolla Cross this summer.

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