New reporting by AutomotiveNews confirms that the production at the new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama will be delayed until later in 2021 than initially planned due to the economic effects of COVID-19.
In a statement to AutomotiveNews, Toni Eberhart, a spokeswoman for Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, said, “On April 9, we informed state and local government officials in Alabama, along with our key suppliers,
how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our ability to maintain critical equipment delivery schedules, creating labor shortages and slowing construction.”
On April 4, construction at the site was suspended as to be compliant with the governor’s stay-at-home order. However, on April 7, work was resumed in areas of the plat where health and safety guidelines put forth by the Alabama Department of Public Health could be met.
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing confirmed two cases of COVID-19 among its workforce on April 10 and recommended that anyone who had contact with those individuals self-quarantine for two week in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
Initial plans for the $1.6 billion plant included the production of the Toyota Corolla. Last year Toyota announced a change of plans that would see Corolla production staying at Toyota’s plant in Mississippi while the Alabama plant would instead produce a, “new, yet-to-be announced SUV” for Toyota and Mazda. Internally, it’s referred to as at the “890B project”.
Plans now call for producing 150,000 units of each model. However, production might not start now until 2022.
Other automakers, including Rivian, are likely seeing manufacturing plans delayed for months as well. A number of
vehicle debuts have been pushed back due to cancelled auto shows and social distancing guidelines. Other projects, like vehicle refreshes for the Chevrolet Traverse and Equinox, which were further down the pipeline, are simply having their refreshes pushed to 2022. Plans for new trucks are also uniquely impacted.