Toyota heads to Mississippi

By Plant Engineering Staff March 2, 2007

As Ford and General Motors struggle with sales and capacity, Toyota Motors Corp. announced this week it was continuing its aggressive expansion into the U.S. manufacturing market. Toyota will build a new assembly plant for its Highlander SUV in Blue Springs, MS, just outside of Tupelo.

The announcement ended an intense bidding war among several southern states over the facility. Toyota already manufactures in San Antonio, Princeton, IN, Fremont, CA and Georgetown, KY, the site of the Plant Engineering 2006 Top Plant award winner.

Once the $1.3 billion facility is opened in 2010, Toyota expects to produce 150,000 Highlander a year. Extensive U.S. demand for the SUV drove Toyota to seek a U.S. manufacturing site.

This is the second major automaker to locate in Mississippi. Nissan opened its Jackson facility in 2003, continuing a trend of foreign carmakers building manufacturing facilities in the Deep South, well away from the auto industry’s traditional home in the Rust Belt.