Toyota to build all-new SUV at Alabama plant

Toyota to build all-new SUV at Alabama plant
The FT-AC concept SUV crossover vehicle Toyota showcased in 2017 looked almost production-ready. There is no indication if the future Alabama-built SUV will have any elements of this or other former Toyota concepts. (Toyota)

Toyota said today that it will build an all-new, yet-to-be-announced SUV at its portion of the new $1.6 billion Alabama plant.

The new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA. joint venture assembly plant is expected to be completed and launch production in 2021.

The plant was going to produce the Toyota Corolla sedan, but the automaker said today it will make a new SUV instead, saying “the shift is in response to changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs, which are achieving record sales, including Toyota’s best-selling RAV4.”

In addition to the RAV4, Toyota produces the Highlander, Land Cruiser, 4Runner, Sequoia and CH-R SUVs and crossover vehicles.

Toyota said it will continue to produce the Corolla at its Blue Springs, Mississippi, plant.

Toyota has unveiled a number of SUV concept vehicles in the past few years. While concept vehicles rarely fully become production models, future production models do take design and functional cues from those concepts.

In 2017, Toyota unveiled the FT-4X concept at the New York International Auto Show that it said at the time was “a four-wheeled drive toolbox” aimed at “urbanites.”

Also in 2017, Toyota showed off its FT-AC concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

“FT-AC is perfect for those outdoor enthusiasts who want to dial up the adventure on their weekend getaways,” Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager, Toyota division, said at the time. “No matter the roads, the activities or the people, FT-AC sparks authentic fun and conversation.”

Construction of MTMUS in Huntsville remains on schedule. Up to 4,000 new jobs will be created and hiring is underway. The plant will produce up to 300,000 vehicles annually.

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