N.C., Ala. reportedly top picks for Toyota, Mazda plant

John Lippert
Bloomberg News

Alabama and North Carolina are the final states in the running to win a prized Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. joint car factory worth $1.6 billion, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The automakers have been narrowing the list for weeks, knocking out almost a dozen other contenders that until recently included Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina, the people said. Mazda and Toyota plan to announce their final choice by early next year, Akira Marumoto, Mazda’s executive vice president, told reporters in Tokyo earlier this month.

Scott Vazin, a Toyota spokesman, and Jeremy Barnes, who represents Mazda, both declined to comment.

The shared factory, scheduled to open in 2021, is the first new auto assembly plant to be announced during the tenure of President Donald Trump, who has pressured Toyota and other carmakers to make more of their vehicles in the U.S. During his recent visit to Tokyo, Trump thanked executives from the two companies for planning 4,000 new jobs at the plant.

“That’s big stuff,” Trump told them, according to the Washington Post. “Congratulations. Come on, let me shake your hand.”

The factory is such a hotly contested prize that Toyota and Mazda are pressing for an incentive package valued at $1 billion or more. Mazda, which currently imports all of the models it sells in the U.S., plans to produce crossovers alongside Toyota Corolla compact cars at the new plant.

In October, Toyota reduced the size of its initial investment in a new Mexican plant. The company will spend $700 million on the Guanajuato factory instead of the $1 billion it originally pledged, and production will be 100,000 vehicles a year instead of 200,000. Trump had criticized Toyota’s Mexico plans in a tweet in January, demanding Toyota build a plant in the U.S. instead.