It seems that Toyota is planning to build a new SUV in a bid to expand the company's model lineup. The automaker revealed their plans to produce a new, yet-to-be-named SUV during their announcement to shift production from the Corolla at their upcoming Alabama plant.
Last year, Toyota and Mazda announced that they will be putting up a new manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama as part of a joint-venture. Officially called the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A (MTMUS) plant, the two companies said at the time that they will be using the upcoming facility to build the next-generation Toyota Corolla as well as a yet-to-be-announced Mazda SUV.
While Toyota has officially confirmed the change in production plans, Mazda’s plan of building a new SUV model has not changed.
The shift in production plans is a response to ever-changing market demands and growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs “which are achieving record sales” according to Toyota in a statement. With a new SUV replacing the line at the upcoming Huntsville plant, Toyota now intends to continue building Corollas at its Blue Springs, Mississippi plant instead.
For now, Toyota has not mentioned any specifics about the upcoming mystery SUV, with details set to be released at a later date. Considering how Toyota and Mazda are both building a new SUV and crossover at the same facility, it is possible that they will be a shared model. According to Car and Driver, who spoke with Toyota and Mazda representatives, the two SUVs will supposedly share some components and suppliers to improve efficiencies. Furthermore, the Mazda states that each model will be developed independently.
As the MTMUS plant is set to begin operations in 2021, it is expected that both mystery Toyota and Mazda models will be making their debuts sometime in 2020. As for what the mystery Toyota SUV will be, rumors suggest that it could be a production version of the FT-4X concept. The FT-4X could be a replacement to the aging FJ Cruiser, which has already been discontinued in the US.
Source: Car and Driver