Toyota Alabama, ‘engine capital of the world,’ marks 15 years

Toyota Alabama, ‘engine capital of the world,’ marks 15 years
Workers in Toyota's engine plant in Huntsville have produced 4.5 million engines in 15 years. (Toyota)

Long known for rocket engine production, Huntsville is on its way to earning the title of “engine capital of the world,” thanks to the presence of Toyota for the past 15 years.

During that time, the Japanese automaker’s Alabama workers have built more than 4.5 million engines at its Huntsville factory, which is the only Toyota plant in the world that produces four-cylinder, V6 and V8 engines under one roof.

On Tuesday, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama marked 15 years of building engines in Huntsville, where it transformed a cotton field into a key manufacturing center.

“Seeing the plant develop over the past 15 years has been amazing,” Toyota Alabama President Jim Bolte said. “Our team members’ outstanding commitment to quality and safety, plus the great support we have received from community partners and local officials, has been the driving force behind our success.”

Toyota Alabama's Jim Bolte

Jim Bolte has overseen rapid growth at Toyota’s Alabama engine plant, which has about 1,300 workers. (Toyota)

The challenge

Back in 2011, Bolte once recalled, a Toyota executive challenged him to turn the Huntsville facility into the “engine capital of the world.” Significant growth at the plant has followed.

With about 1,350 employees, the plant today contains more than 1 million square feet of production space and represents an investment of $864 million. It has expanded four times and today produces six times as many engines as it did at startup.

Toyota team members celebrate a production milestone — the 4 millionth Alabama-made engine. (Toyota)

 

It has also focused on reducing waste and improving energy efficiency, winning awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Toyota North America. The Huntsville facility started as a zero landfill plant and is a pilot site for several new green initiatives.

“Toyota Alabama has made a significant impact in Huntsville and the state as a whole,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said. “Not only have they continued to support our strong economy through multiple expansions, but they also heavily invest in the community. We are so thankful to have them in Alabama.”

Community support

The company actively supports area nonprofit agencies through ongoing volunteer efforts, and its local donations exceed $6 million. To mark the 15-year milestone, Toyota Alabama will donate $15,000 to the Food Bank of North Alabama and Free2Teach, an initiative that provides free school supplies to Madison County teachers.

As a thank you for the community’s support over the years, Toyota Alabama is hosting the “Toyota Summer Rev,” a free concert featuring Craig Morgan and Thompson Square. It’s scheduled for July 30 in the Von Braun Center North Hall parking lot. For more details, visit http://www.toyotasummerrev.com/.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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