Limestone County likely home for $1.6B Toyota-Mazda plant

Limestone County likely home for $1.6B Toyota-Mazda plant

Toyota already has a large presence in Huntsville, as Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama already employs 1,450 people.

Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda say they will build a joint factory in the U.S. state of Alabama.

North Carolina was a finalist fro the 4,000-employee plant, where Toyota plans to assemble the Corolla sedan, while Mazda said it will use the factory to produce new crossover vehicles for the USA market.

An official announcement is expected Wednesday. Mazda has not yet said which automobile the joint plant will produce.

Trump tweeted in March he wanted "new plants to be built here for cars sold here". Total sales fell 1.8 percent in 2017, to 17.2 million, ending a seven-year run of growth.

A Toyota spokeswoman, Amanda Roark, declined to comment.

Alabama and North Carolina were the final two states in the running, but the Charlotte Observer reported North Carolina lost out on the plant.

Photo A Toyota assembly line in Huntsville, Ala., in 2009.

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A Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville website for the "Huntsville Mega Site" touts the fact it has been "certified as development-ready".

A year ago, President-elect Trump criticized Toyota and threatened hefty tariffs against the Japanese automaker if it built its Corolla sedan for the USA market in Mexico.

When Toyota and Mazda announced their joint venture in August previous year, Trump took to Twitter to praise the Japanese automakers for their American-centric decision. Mazda plans to build new crossover SUVs at the plant.

The new Alabama plant, when completed, is expected to assemble a new version of the Toyota Corolla compact auto. "A great investment in American manufacturing!"

The two automakers are aiming to start operations at the plant in 2021.

Toyota and Mazda Motor Corp. 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.

Expected to open in 2021, the plant breaks ground at a time where US auto sales are on a decline, meaning increased pressure to cut costs could jeopardize the automakers' plans to scale up USA production.