USA: Toyota postpones decision on new plant site

By just-auto.com editorial team | 2 December 2002

According to Associated Press (AP), Toyota will postpone for several months a decision on building an assembly plant in one of five potential US locations, including Mississippi.

AP said that a decision had been expected by early December and that the other finalists for the $750 million North American vehicle assembly plant are Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee and Alabama.

According to AP, Texas governor Rick Perry has said the Texas legislature could be asked to consider some long-term incentives for Toyota while Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who has proposed a five-eighths cent sales tax hike that could create an economic incentive fund, has indicated his willingness to call a special legislative session in early January.

Additionally, AP reported, Toyota now says any site it selects ideally would have rail access from at least two carriers. Texas, for one, needs time to resolve a dispute between two rail carriers that, unless settled, would prevent its San Antonio site from having service from more than one rail company.

AP said Mississippi's proposed site, 48 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee, in Panola County, is in an area served by only one carrier -- Canadian National Railway while the proposed site in Arkansa, 10 miles west of Memphis, has five rail carriers' lines within several miles and a Union Pacific intermodal rail and truck shipping facility less than a mile from the site.

"Dual rail access has worked very well at our other North American plants, and it's an important factor in our site selection," said Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America spokesman Dan Sieger told Associated Press.

According to AP, site selection specialists say Texas and Arkansas have been the most aggressive in compiling incentives for the Toyota project.

AP said two Japanese trade publications reported several weeks ago that Texas was the winner but Texas and Toyota denied the report, and officials in Arkansas and Alabama have said Toyota has not made a final decision on the proposed plant which could employ up to 4,000 workers.