Toyota will use its new joint venture factory with Mazda to build a yet-to-be-announced SUV. The automaker previously intended to build the Corolla there.
"This shift is in response to changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs which are achieving record sales," Toyota said in a statement. The company now plans to continue producing the Corolla at its factory in Blue Springs, Mississippi.
The Toyota-Mazda joint factory in Huntsville, Alabama, will start producing vehicles in 2021 and will employ 4,000 people. The site will have a capacity of 300,000 cars per year. Mazda will also produce a crossover there, but the automaker won't announce the name of the vehicle yet. The companies are investing $1.6 billion into the project.
Gallery: Toyota FT-4X Concept
The identity of this new Toyota model is a mystery, but rumors suggest the company is considering building a production version of the FT-4X concept (gallery above). The model would give the brand a rugged, compact crossover. According to Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz, there are customers asking for "another FJ," and he sees room for an "authentic small off-road SUV" in the brand's lineup.
The FT-4X Concept was purely a styling exercise that the designers intended to adapt cues from classic Land Cruisers and the brand's vintage pickups into a modern, compact crossover. The interior featured utilitarian touches like a removable audio system and tubular HVAC vents that could tilt downward to blow air on the shelf below them. The door handles even did double duty as removable water bottles. Toyota didn't offer many drivetrain details at the time but indicated that such a vehicle would use a small-displacement four-cylinder engine and four-wheel-drive system with a low-range transfer case.
Plano, Texas and Huntsville, Ala. (July 10, 2019) – Toyota is shifting future production plans at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. (MTMUS) joint venture assembly plant as an opportunity to build a new, yet-to-be announced SUV.
This shift is in response to changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs which are achieving record sales, including Toyota’s best-selling RAV4.
More details related to the future SUV will be released at a later date. Corolla production continues at Toyota’s Blue Springs, Mississippi, plant.
Construction of MTMUS in Huntsville, Alabama, remains on schedule, with the start of production expected to begin in 2021. Up to 4,000 new jobs will be created and hiring is underway.
In August 2017, Toyota and Mazda announced a collaboration to establish MTMUS, a $1.6 billion joint venture that will assemble up to 300,000 vehicles annually.