The crossover craze doesn’t show any sign of slowing down and Toyota is responding to the shift in demand by announcing plans to build a new SUV in the United States.
Little is known about the model, but the company has confirmed it will be built at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama. The plant is currently under construction and production is slated to begin in 2021.
The plant was originally set to build the Toyota Corolla, but the company reversed course in “response to changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs which are achieving record sales.” Despite the change, the Corolla will continue to be built at the company’s plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi.
While the company was coy on specifics, the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant was slated to build up to 150,000 Corollas annually. However, Corolla sales in the United States fell from 360,483 units in 2016 to 280,886 units last year. As a result, it’s possible that Toyota decided there wasn’t enough demand to justify having two U.S. plants building the Corolla. If that’s the case, it’s not necessarily a bad move as it frees up the joint plant to build the new SUV.
Details about the model will be released at a later day, but Toyota referred to the vehicle as a “new, yet-to-be announced SUV.” That suggests it’s an all-new vehicle which join the company’s existing crossover and SUV lineup that includes the CH-R, RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner, Sequoia and Land Cruiser.
There’s no word on which model will built at the plant, but executives have previously suggested the FT-4X concept could go into production. That model was introduced at 2017 New York Auto Show and featured boxy styling as well as all-wheel drive.
Regardless of what Toyota builds at the plant, the facility will have an annual capacity of up to 300,000 units. That capacity will be split equally between Toyota and Mazda.
Note: Toyota FT-4X concept pictured