Alabama edged out North Carolina as the winner in a multi-state contest for a prized Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. joint car factory worth $1.6 billion, a person familiar with the negotiations said.
The Japanese automakers have been narrowing the list of possible locations for months. Mazda and Toyota plan to announce their final choice in the Alabama capital of Montgomery, said the person, who asked not to be identified.
The shared factory Toyota and Mazda plan to open in 2021 is the only new auto assembly plant to be announced under President Donald Trump, who has pressured Toyota and other carmakers to make more of their vehicles in the US.
During his November visit to Tokyo, Trump thanked executives from the two companies for their US expansion plans.
It will be Toyota’s 11th assembly plant in the US—its biggest market—and the first since 2011. The automaker already has an engine factory in Huntsville, Alabama, and announced a $106 million upgrade to the facility in September.
The new factory will help the companies hedge currency risks—and also may keep them out of the White House’s crosshairs. To make way for the new plant, Toyota in October cut its planned investment in a facility in Guanajuato, Mexico, by 30 percent to $700 million. Trump had threatened Toyota in a tweet a year ago while president-elect to build Corolla cars in the US instead of Mexico or face a “big border tax.”
Toyota spokesman Curt McAllister said the automaker has no announcement to make at this time. Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes declined to comment. Jerry Underwood, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Commerce, also declined to comment.
The plant is such a highly sought-after prize that Toyota and Mazda were said to press for an incentive package worth at least $1 billion. The automakers have pledged to create as many as 4,000 jobs.
North America accounted for about a quarter of Toyota’s total vehicle sales in 2017, and about 36 percent of revenue. Mazda, which gets a third of its revenue from North America, currently imports all of the models it sells in the US. It plans to produce crossovers alongside Toyota Corolla compact cars at the joint plant.