As Toyota and Mazda scour U.S., Miss. opens arms
As Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. begin to scour the U.S. for where to put the first auto assembly plant announced under President Donald Trump, one state looks like a frontrunner: Mississippi.
The Magnolia State already is home to a Corolla factory that’s been producing the compact car for almost six years. Toyota and Mazda plan to open a $1.6 billion new facility to produce that model, plus a Mazda crossover, starting in 2021.
Hanging in the balance for states vying for the factory are 4,000 jobs that the two Japanese automakers expect to create through their joint investment.
Locating the plant near Toyota’s existing manufacturing site in Blue Springs would enable the two to source parts from companies nearby that feed components to the Corolla. A head-start on a supplier network would be particularly attractive for Mazda, which doesn’t have a U.S. plant.
“We do have supply lines in the U.S. that are pretty extensive, particularly for the Corolla,” said Scott Vazin, a Toyota spokesman. “We hope these supply lines can be utilized for this new entity, because there are clearly some efficiencies in it.”
One option would be to build the new plant in Blue Springs itself. Toyota’s existing factory opened in 2011 as its sole U.S. assembly location for the Corolla. Roughly half the site the company acquired before breaking ground in 2007 is still vacant, with roads and sewers already in place awaiting further investment.
Former Gov. Haley Barbour and local governments lured Toyota to Mississippi with a $358.5 million incentive package in 2007.
Phil Bryant, who’s been in the office since 2012, on Friday indicated he’s prepared to do what it takes to land another plant.
“As Toyota embarks on its joint venture with Mazda, we stand ready to grow our existing partnership and strengthen Mississippi’s standing as a global leader in automotive manufacturing,” Bryant said in an emailed statement.
Mississippi isn’t a sure thing. Vazin, the Toyota spokesman, described the state of the project as “very early days.”