Toyota chief Akio Toyoda (left) and Mazda chief Masamichi Kogai
Toyota and Mazda confirmed Wednesday plans to build a jointly owned vehicle manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama.
Each automaker will take on half the $1.6 billion bill for the plant, which was first announced last August and expected to come online in 2021.
The plant will have the capacity to build 300,000 vehicles annually, with production split evenly between the two automakers. And roughly 4,000 people will be directly employed once the plant is at full capacity.
Toyota will use the plant for the next-generation Corolla, while Mazda will use it for an unnamed SUV. The SUV will be a new model positioned between the CX-5 and CX-9, and word on the street is that it might revive the CX-7 nameplate.
The plant represents a return to U.S. manufacturing for Mazda, which previously built its Mazda 6 at a plant owned by Ford. For Toyota, it will be the automaker’s 11th U.S. manufacturing facility.
The news is yet another sign of the further deepening of ties between Toyota and Mazda. Toyota already sells a rebadged Mazda 2 sedan as the Yaris iA, and the two automakers have also announced they will jointly develop electric cars and other technologies. Mazda’s first electric car is due in 2019. Toyota will launch an electric car in China around the same time and will follow up with electric cars powered by solid-state batteries shortly after 2020.