Mazda, Toyota In Joint Venture For New Alabama Plant

Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda and Mazda President and CEO joined Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle to announce a new manufacturing partnership.  The new plant will be in Huntsville, Alabama just 14 miles away from an existing Toyota plant.

Production of cars is expected to start in 2021, pending antitrust agency approval.  The new plant is expected to produce up to 300,000 cars, half of the production will go to Mazda and half to Toyota.  Mazda will produce a new crossover SUV to the North American market and Toyota production will focus on the Corolla

The 1.6 Billion dollar cost of the new plant will also be split half and half and should bring 4000 jobs to the area.  The United States is a stronghold of Toyota plants, the new one will be the 11th, making most Toyotas more American than Japanese.


(Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images for Mazda Motor Co)

Whats in it for the companies?

Toyota is known for its quality that is at least partially derived from excellence in production.  Toyota perfected lean production methods between 1948 and 1975.  They then rebranded the method Toyota Production System (TPS).

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Mazda can benefit from learning the nuances in this system of production. TPS is a just in time production method where parts are delivered and prepped for install on the line with minimal time to spare.  This minimizes warehouse space and waste in general.

Mazda has been holding out on the internal combustion engine and this information could be (take extra note of the could be) shared with Toyota.  The new Skyactiv-X engine is able to dramatically increase efficiency by compressing very small amounts of air and fuel for combustion.

This type of engine can be incredibly difficult to control the timing of the combustion which is why no manufacturer has done it.  Mazda’s engineers figured out a way to make this type of engine much less volatile.

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Full disclosure, I don’t fully understand the tech in the Skyactiv-X well enough to accurately describe how incredible it is, see the video above for more.

I really don’t see a downside.

Toyota might (again, take special note here) be able to benefit from Mazda feeding them small engineering tips from the Skyactiv-X to improve their emissions.   Mazda has a great opportunity to refine production techniques.  This isn’t a state secret or anything, Toyota wrote a book on it, however, I am absolutely sure there are some refinements that can make things less wasteful and more efficient. For more info, read the press release either here or here.


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