- Toyota and Mazda are constructing a new plant in Huntsville, Alabama, that will begin production in 2021.
- The plant was originally going to build a new Mazda SUV model and Toyota Corolla compact cars, but Toyota now says it will build a new SUV model there instead.
- Representatives of both Toyota and Mazda have told Car and Driver that the vehicles will share some components and suppliers but will be developed separately.
Toyota and Mazda's plans for a new factory in Alabama are coming into clearer focus. While Toyota initially planned to build Corollas at this plant, the company has changed course and now says it will build a new SUV model that's not currently part of the lineup. Mazda's plan to build a new SUV model has not changed.
Both Toyota and Mazda representatives told C/D that the two SUVs will share components and suppliers to improve efficiencies. But, unlike Toyota and Mazda's arrangement with the Yaris, in which Mazda builds a rebadged version of the 2 subcompact for Toyota, these SUVs will be different vehicles. Mazda asserted in a statement that they will be "developed independently by each brand." We expect both of these new models to debut sometime in 2020, as production is slated to start in 2021.
What Will the New SUV Models Be?
We think the Toyota will be a production version of the FT-4X concept from 2017 that will slot in between the compact RAV4 and the subcompact C-HR. This boxy small crossover would give Toyota a more rugged-looking, off-road-oriented entry in the small-SUV segment in the vein of the Jeep Renegade. The existing C-HR is more carlike and does not offer all-wheel drive.
Because Mazda currently has a gap in its lineup between the compact CX-5 and three-row CX-9 crossovers, our best guess is that the new model built in Alabama will be a mid-size two-row crossover to compete with the likes of the Honda Passport and Chevrolet Blazer. It could revive the CX-7 name from a previous crossover that was discontinued in 2013, since Mazda maintains a trademark in the U.S. for that moniker. Mazda executives have previously said that this model will be developed specially for the U.S. market and claimed that it could become the company's top-selling model here.
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