Milestone: Toyota Alabama plant produces first next-gen engine

Milestone: Toyota Alabama plant produces first next-gen engine
Toyota's Alabama plant in Huntsville produced its first next-generation 4-cylinder engine on a new line last week. (Toyota Alabama)

Toyota’s Alabama plant produced its first next-generation four-cylinder engine after a $106 million investment to prepare the Huntsville facility for advanced production.

The milestone occurred last week, exactly one year after the automaker announced the investment in Alabama to build next-gen engines using a new approach called Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA).

“I could not be prouder to reach this milestone. Launching our new TNGA engine is a true testament to our highly skilled workforce,” said David Fernandes, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama. “They are leading Toyota Alabama into the future of advanced engine production.”

The project provided a complete replacement of the four-cylinder engine line at the only Toyota plant in the world to build four-cylinder, V-6 and V-8 engines under one roof. Last week, the Alabama plant built its first advanced, four-cylinder engine from the new line.

TNGA represents a new approach to the way Toyota designs, engineers and produces its vehicles. While retaining traditional values, such as exceptional quality and safety, the advanced engines produced using TNGA will have increased power performance, efficiencies and fuel economy, Toyota said.

In designing the TNGA platform, engineers have repositioned and lowered the center of gravity of powertrain components. They’ve also focused on reducing the weight and size of components, while increasing overall body rigidity, thanks to stronger materials and laser welding techniques.

The new powertrain units will go into Toyota RAV4 and Highlander vehicles, providing 10 percent better power performance and 20 percent better fuel economy. This supports the company’s goals to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

6 million engines

With four expansions since 2003, Toyota Alabama has grown from 300 employees to more than 1,400.

The new production line added 50 jobs and increased total plant investment to nearly $1 billion.

The Huntsville plant is among Toyota’s largest engine facilities globally, producing more than more than 700,000 engines in 2017 for the RAV4, Highlander, Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia. This breaks down to about 3,000 each day.

The Alabama plant built its 6 millionth engine earlier this year.

“Toyota has had remarkable success in Alabama, and it is a pillar of our booming automotive industry,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

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

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