The partnership between Huntsville, known as Alabama’s “rocket city,” and Toyota-Mazda was announced today.
Huntsville Mayor, Tommy Battle, said, “We are embarking on a new world. Huntsville, Alabama has the most advanced space stations, that contributed to sending a man to the moon. During the Gulf War our new aviation platforms and systems gave us an advantage over those who sought to do us harm.”
“It is on that legacy, the people of Huntsville have responded, a legacy project that will impact our state and city for years and decades to come.”
Governor Kay Ivey thanked Toyota and Mazda for the partnership, saying, “Thank you for choosing Alabama. Not only for our great state, but for our people. Thank you and welcome to Sweet Home Alabama.”
President and CEO of Mazda, Masamichi Kogai, said, “I wanted to come to Alabama today to speak directly with you. We will be building a new vehicle from here. I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the people of Alabama and Huntsville.”
Mazda started selling cars in America in 1970, so 2020 will mark 50 years in America. Mazda actually began manufacturing cars in 1921, thus 2021 also marks 100 years in the industry.
According to Mazda’s press release: It is projected to produce 300,000 vehicles a year, with half being the Toyota Corolla and the rest an unspecified Mazda model. For some perspective, Alabama's Honda and Hyundai plants both produced more than 320,000 vehicles in 2017.
Akio Toyoda also spoke, calling it a “new investment in Alabama.” He went on to say, “Two things brought our vision together. Love of cars and love of hometowns. A hometown is critical for sustainable growth. Our success will only be achieved if we work together with your hometowns and their people, planting the seeds for future generations.”
The Raleigh News & Observer reports that North Carolina lost out on the plant because it does not have the supply chain logistics that the car companies desire.
The joint venture will be a $1.6 billion assembly plant, which will create 4,000 jobs and be up and running by 2021. The average salary will be $50,000.
While it may be too soon to speculate as to what they’ll actually create, Mayor Battle indicated the plant will come up with new technology and that the auto industry is “an industry about mobility.”
According to published reports last year, both companies hope to co-develop electric vehicles, safety features and connected-car technologies.
The sheer cost of the plant also makes a partnership logical, as it boosts cost-efficiency and economies of scale, which is exactly what Freight Alley has offered auto manufacturers for the better part of half a century.
As FreightWaves reported on earlier today, the appropriate business climate of Freight Alley has led to another important economic automotive shot in the arm. Working together on environmentally focused and safety technology also makes sense as the sector becomes increasingly competitive.
It’s a good day for the industry and region. Perhaps the symbol of this project developing in the “rocket city,” rife with engineers who have worked for generations at the NASA plant, will lead to the kind of innovation of production and product that will keep the region healthy and sustainable for “years and decades to come.”
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