Production begins at new Toyota, Mazda plant in US

Japan's Toyota Motor says production has begun at its new assembly plant in the US state of Alabama jointly set up with another Japanese automaker, Mazda Motor.

The announcement was made on Thursday.

The joint venture facility has the capacity to produce 300,000 vehicles per year, split evenly between the two companies.

That will raise Toyota's US manufacturing capacity to about 1.5 million units a year.

Toyota and Mazda decided to build the plant in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2018, at a time when former US President Donald Trump was urging Japanese businesses to make more of a contribution to the US economy.

The two companies have invested more than 2.3 billion dollars in the project. The plant is expected to hire up to 4,000 people once production is in full operation.

Toyota will be manufacturing gasoline-powered SUVs at the plant.

US President Joe Biden in August signed an executive order that sets a target of having half of all new cars sold in 2030 emission-free. US automakers have announced plans to boost production of electric vehicles, including building EV battery plants.