Mazda Toyota

A rendering of the future $1.6 billion Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant under construction in Limestone County.

The future Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County won't be building the Toyota Corolla but instead an SUV, the company announced Wednesday.

Until that announcement, the plan was to produce about 300,000 vehicles per year, with production split evenly between Mazda and Toyota to produce a yet-to-be revealed Mazda crossover model and the Toyota Corolla. The Corolla will continue to be assembled at Toyota's plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi.

“This shift is in response to changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs, which are achieving record sales, including Toyota’s best-selling RAV4,” said a press release about the production shift.

Specific details about the SUV will be announced later.

According to a Fox News report in January, Americans purchased 17 million vehicles in 2018, with 68 percent of them being trucks and SUVs. The report said 427,170 Toyota RAV4s were purchased compared to 343,439 Toyota Camrys and 303,732 Toyota Corollas.

Building, hiring ongoing

Construction of MTMUS in Huntsville remains on schedule, with the start of production expected to begin in 2021. Up to 4,000 new jobs will be created, and hiring is underway.

As previously announced, the rate of pay at MTMUS is based on experience and skill level, ranging from $23.50 to $33 per hour. When the project was first announced in January 2018, officials said the average salary per worker would be $50,000, which is exclusive of benefits.

The company announced last week that 60 new team members were hired last week. Those interested in applying should visit https://www.findabetterjob.com/MazdaToyota.

Earlier this year, Toyota provided 10 Toyota Corolla shells to the Limestone County Career Technical Center. The gift gave students a chance to practice their painting skills as the shells were painted “MaTo Crimson,” a unique blend of Mazda Soul Red, Toyota Barcelona Red and Alabama state flag crimson.

The finished shells were to be used for skill-assessment tools for those interviewing for positions at the MTM plant. Victor Vanov, a spokesman with MTM, said the shells would continue to be used for training and demonstration purposes.

“There are no plans to replace them at this time,” he said.

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