Toyota, Mazda joining to build $1.6 billion US plant

Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. said Friday they plan to spend $1.6 billion to set up a joint-venture auto manufacturing plant in the U.S. — a move that will create up to 4,000 jobs.

The plant will have an annual production capacity of about 300,000 vehicles, and will produce Toyota Corollas for the North American market. Mazda will make cross-over models there that it plans to introduce to that market, both sides said.

The companies will split the cost for the plant equally, but did not specify where it would be built.

Toyota said that it changed its plan to make Corollas at a plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, now under construction, and instead will produce Tacoma pickups there.

President Donald Trump had criticized Toyota for taking auto production and jobs to Mexico. With the investment, both automakers can hope to prove their good American corporate citizenship and appease the Trump administration’s concerns about jobs moving overseas.

The companies will also work together on various advanced auto technology, such as electric vehicles, safety features and connected cars, as well as products that they could supply each other, they said.

Toyota will also acquire 31,928,500 shares of common stock newly issued by Mazda through a third-party allotment, which will amount to a 5.05 percent stake in Mazda, valued at 50 billion yen ($455 million).

Mazda, which makes the Miata roadster, will acquire 50 billion yen worth of Toyota shares, the equivalent of a 0.25 percent stake. The investment deal is expected to be final by October, the companies said.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda praised Mazda as a great partner.

“It has also sparked Toyota’s competitive spirit, increasing our sense of not wanting to be bested by Mazda. This is a partnership in which those who are passionate about cars will work together to make ever-better cars,” he said.

The companies said their collaboration will respect their mutual independence and equality. Toyota already provides hybrid technology to Mazda, which makes compact cars for Toyota at its Mexico plant.

The sheer cost of the plant also makes a partnership logical, as it boosts cost-efficiency and economies of scale. Working together on green and other auto technology also makes sense as the segment becomes increasingly competitive due to concerns about global warming, the environment and safety.

“Given the massive level of competition in the industry, partnerships are no longer a…

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