Alabama picked for new Toyota-Mazda factory in works

Employees work on an assembly line of the Toyota Motor Corp's Prius hybrid car at the Tsutsumi plant in Toyota central Japan

"ORCRP015439-topic.html" class="local_link" >Toyota and Mazda are expected to make an announcement Wednesday about their massive new joint factory.

The manufacturing plant is to be built in the Huntsville area not far from the Tennessee state line, said the person, who asked to remain anonymous because the site hasn't been officially announced.

The companies are planning an afternoon announcement about the plant and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has scheduled a news conference at the same time to make what her office described as a major economic development announcement.

A person briefed says the plant will be located in Alabama. US new vehicle sales fell 2 percent in 2017, after hitting an all-time record high in 2016, and are expected to fall further in 2018. It has been reported the companies sought at least $1 billion in incentives. Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes declined to comment.

According to a report from Automotive News, the Japanese automakers decided on Huntsville, Alabama as the site of their upcoming facility, after narrowing down their choices between Alabama and North Carolina. The Huntsville area already has a Toyota engine factory that employs almost 1,500 people. The automaker already has an engine factory in Huntsville, Ala., and announced a $106 million upgrade to the facility in September.

Following Pres. Donald Trump's tariff-tough talk in 2016, Toyota was grilled by the then-President-Elect via Twitter about moving manufacturing jobs outside the USA, threatening crippling tariffs on automakers that didn't build new facilities in the states. The commerce chamber, local and state officials declined to comment on Tuesday on plans for the plant.

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Toyota and Mazda also plan to work together on various advanced auto technology, such as electric vehicles, safety features and connected cars, as well as products that they could supply each other, they said. "NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax", Trump posted on Twitter in early 2017.

In October, Toyota said it would scale back investment in a planned plant in Mexico by 30 percent to $700 million and cut planned annual capacity in half to 100,000 vehicles as it shuffles its production plans to meet market demands.

The new plant will be home to Mazda's new crossover SUVs and Toyota's Corolla compact sedans, which were originally going to be built in Mexico, drawing the ire of Trump.

The companies were reportedly seeking $1 billion in incentives from state and local governments to land the plant.

It's hard to predict auto sales in three years, but at present, Toyota may not need the factory for Corolla production.

States covet auto assembly plants because they typically pay above-average wages and spin off jobs at suppliers and service companies.

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