Toyota to restart Mississippi plant and build Corollas

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 25, 2010

Due to the slowing economy, construction of Toyota Motor Corp.'s plant in Mississippi was halted but with the economy showing signs of recovery, the carmaker has announced that it will resume building the plant. In fact, Toyota said that late next year, production of the Corolla will start in the plant.

In a statement by Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America, the company "first had to fully utilize [its] existing facilities" during the economic downturn but that it's now "time to fulfill Toyota's promise in Mississippi."

Toyota revealed that 2,000 workers will be hired soon but it didn't give a time frame of its plans.

The fact that Inaba pointed to the production of the Corolla as the plant's purpose is a remarkable shift of plans from the original project. The groundbreaking ceremony for the 2 million-square-foot factory near Tupelo took place in April 2007 with an initial plan to assemble Highlander SUVs in late 2009.

Sometime in the middle of 2008, Toyota revealed that it will produce the Prius hybrid instead after fuel prices rose and sales of large vehicles fell.

It was in December 2008 that Toyota halted construction with the building's shell essentially complete. At this time, the US industry was on the verge of its worst sales slump in almost 30 years.

Toyota's plan for production of the Corolla to start in the fall of 2011 enables the company to get the $1.3 billion Mississippi project operational faster than it could with any other product.

This spring, Toyota moved 150,000 Corolla units to Japan this spring after closing its California plant, New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. With the opening of the Mississippi plant, Toyota will be able to return those 150,000 Corollas. By then, nearly all Corollas for North America will be made on the continent while 40,000 will still be shipped from Japan.

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