Toyota’s Mississippi plant has been a victim of the drama in the automotive industry, and it hasn’t even opened yet. Though Toyota has switched its product plans numerous times and stalled building progress, the automaker has now set firm plans to finish the facility that will begin building the Corolla in late 2011.
Initially, Toyota planned on producing Highlander SUVs in Mississippi when the company broke ground in 2007. In 2008, production plans for the Highlander were suspended as gas prices soared, and Toyota considered building the hot-selling Prius there. Then, in 2009, construction halted completely after the economy slowed and markets collapsed.
Now, construction of the almost completed facility is on schedule to be ready to produce Corollas in the fall of 2011. Toyota moved production of 150,000 Corollas from northern California to Japan when it closed the New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated (NUMMI) plant. Those 150,000 units will now move back to the U.S.
“Toyota appreciates the patience of Governor [Haley] Barbour and all Mississippians, but we first need to fully utilize our existing facilities as the economy slowed,” said Yoshimi Inaba, president and CEO of Toyota Motors North America. “Now it’s time to fulfill Toyota’s promise in Mississippi. Toyota remains committed to making vehicles where we sell them and to maintaining a substantial manufacturing presence in North America.”
The decision to move Corolla production to its new Mississippi manufacturing facility will allow the facility to come online faster than with any other model. With the move, Toyota will add around 2000 jobs to northeastern Mississippi where the plant is located.