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Toyota to build new SUV, not Corolla, at Alabama plant

by Drew Johnson

Toyota is switching gears at its Mazda joint-venture plant.

Toyota announced on Wednesday that it's revamping its production plans for its yet-to-be built production facility that's currently being constructed in Huntsville, Alabama.

Toyota initially said it would build its Corolla compact sedan at the Huntsville plant -- which will be operated in a joint-venture with Mazda -- but the automaker has officially scratched those plans. Instead, Toyota says it will build a yet-to-be announced SUV in the Corolla's place.

"This 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,” Toyota said in a statement.

Although pure speculation, it's possible Toyota's unnamed SUV could be based on a Mazda platform. Mazda will use the Alabama plant to build an SUV of its own, and it would make fiscal sense for Toyota to take advantage of that baked-in capacity.

Toyota and Mazda have ca history of collaboration, including the current Mazda2-based Toyota Yaris.

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