Alabama continues on track to become the nation’s No. 2 automobile-producing state by 2022.
Last week, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a $750 million expansion at five U.S. plants that the company says will create nearly 600 new jobs. Most of those jobs will be in Alabama.
Toyota’s engine plant in Huntsville is to be the recipient of 450 new jobs as part of a $288 million investment that will see the facility add four-cylinder and V6 engine production lines.
That is just a small part of Toyota’s growing presence in north Alabama, dwarfed by last year’s announcement by Toyota and Mazda that the two automakers will build a $1.6 billion plant in Limestone County, which the two promise will eventually employ about 4,000 people.
Alabama’s transformation into an automobile manufacturing hub has been long in coming, beginning in 1993 with Mercedes-Benz’s announcement it would build a plant in Vance, between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.
“Congratulations @Toyota! BIG NEWS for U.S. Auto Workers!” President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday after the company’s announcement. “The USMCA is already fixing the broken NAFTA deal.”
The USMCA is the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Trump’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Toyota officials don’t agree with the president.
“Our overarching manufacturing principle is if we can sell it here we need to make it here. That’s been true before any tariff uncertainty, it’s true during tariff uncertainty and it will be true after. Our investment cycles go beyond any particular political cycle,” Toyota Motor North America executive Chris Reynolds said Thursday.
Meanwhile, the president’s aggressive policy of hiking tariffs continues to weight heavily on the U.S. auto industry, driving up costs for materials used in the production process. According to one estimate, published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, Trump’s tariffs are costing the U.S. economy $1.4 billion every month.
Despite tariffs and trade deficits alike, the U.S. is still a good place for companies to invest, as Toyota’s latest investment shows. And Alabama is at the forefront of investments in the automobile industry.