Toyota, Mazda to build $1.6B joint plant in Alabama

Louisiana tried to woo auto plant with $500M in incentives

Louisiana proposed a $500.5 million incentive package in an effort to land a $1.6 billion joint Toyota-Mazda automobile plant that is going to Alabama and eventually employ about 4,000 people.

The facility will have the capacity to build 300,000 vehicles annually, with production split evenly between two lines for each company. Toyota officials said the key factor in choosing Alabama for the plant was its workforce, having experience with the Huntsville area for 15 years through an engine factory located in the Rocket City. The companies originally announced plans for a US plant in August when the two Japanese automakers signed a joint venture agreement, though the exact location was not known at that time.

The 2,500-acre Huntsville location announced Wednesday is more than twice as big as the 1,100 acres the partners targeted initially, according to Bob Carter, Toyota's sales chief for North America.

"Alabama won a first place trophy today in being selected for that plant", said Dave Sullivan, product analysis manager at AutoPacific Inc., an automotive research company.

"Alabama is truly honored to have been chosen for this project", Gov. Kay Ivey said at a press conference. With the nation's most productive manufacturing workforce and No. 1 state workforce training program, Louisiana can make a compelling case for new investment.

"With this announcement, our world changes overnight", said Tommy Battle, mayor of Huntsville.

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"Mazda makes cars with a clear vision of how we want to inspire people, contribute to society and help preserve the beauty of the earth".

Alabama ranked 44th out of 48 mainland US states in overall manufacturing costs a year ago, contributing to its appeal, said John Boyd, a site selection specialist based in Princeton, New Jersey, who didn't work on this deal.

The state of Alabama is the fifth largest producer of cars and light trucks nationally, with a strong automotive manufacturing presence.

"It was especially exciting to see both new and existing companies make investments and announce projects that will position the state as an important location in the global auto industry for years to come".

In the coming months, after obtaining approvals and authorization by antitrust agencies, the new joint venture will be established, and site preparations will begin with the start of production in 2021.

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