Toyota marks record for engine production

The plant assembles four-cylinder, V-6 and V-8 engines and is the only plant in North America to build the Twin Turbo V-6 engine

Toyota Alabama built 770,000 engines in Huntsville in 2023.

The Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama (TMMAL) engine plant in Huntsville assembled 770,000 engines in 2023, a record production number for the facility. The plant is a critical part of Toyota’s supply chain and has the capacity to build up to 900,000 engines per year. To keep up with production demands, TMMAL has also seen a significant bump in hiring and currently employs more than 2,000 people.

“Toyota Alabama supplies over one-third of all engines for Toyota’s North American operations,” points out Jason Puckett, president of Toyota Alabama. Puckett has overseen production and administration functions at TMMAL since 2021. Prior to that, he served as vice president of administration and manufacturing at Toyota Indiana, where his Toyota career started in 1997.

Jason Puckett, president of Toyota Alabama.

“Every line at Toyota Alabama assembles engines for both hybrid and combustion vehicles. It’s our 2,000 team members and their skills that have paved the way for this plant to play a critical role in Toyota’s electrified future,” Puckett says.

The 1.3 million-square-foot facility has four assembly lines that produce four-cylinder + HEV engines, 2.4 turbo + HEV engines and twin-turbo VS + HEV engines that can be found under the hoods of RAV4, Corolla, Corolla Cross, Highlander, Sienna, Tundra and Sequoia vehicles. The plant builds four-cylinder and V-6 engines, and is the only plant in North America that builds the Twin Turbo V-6 engine.

Since starting production in 2003, TMMAL has undertaken eight major investment projects totaling nearly $1.5 billion. The most recent was a $222 million investment made in April 2022 to expand the facility by 114,000 square feet and create a new four-cylinder production line that has the capacity to build engines for combustion and hybrid electric powertrains. The 2022 expansion was the sixth for the plant.

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The Toyota engine plant in Huntsville has been expanded six times since it opened in 2003.

The Huntsville facility is one of Toyota’s two designated model sustainable plants in North America with zero landfills and has won the EPA Energy Star Challenge for Industry award and the Toyota North America award for outstanding energy and water management. It has also been ISO14001 certified since 2004 and Wildlife Habitat Council Certified since 2014.

In April 2023 the company announced a power purchase agreement with Toyota Tsusho America Inc. (TAI) and Huntsville Utilities that will support a 168-acre, $49 million solar project. The 30-megawatt solar array, located in the North Huntsville Industrial Park that surrounds the TMMAL plant, is expected to generate 62,000 megawatt hours annually, reducing approximately 22,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year and supplying more than 70% of the plant’s energy needs.

“Toyota is taking a transparent, science-based approach to address climate change,” Puckett said in a company press release. “By relying on the sun to power our operations, we will reduce our carbon footprint and create a model of environmental stewardship in North Alabama.”

TAI’s Energy Infrastructure Solutions team is managing construction of the system and will be responsible for long-term operations. The solar facility is scheduled to begin generating energy this summer and will bring Toyota one step closer to achieving carbon neutrality in its operations by 2035.

Enjoying work at TMMAL.

In August 2023 the Toyota USA Foundation announced it would provide $6.7 million to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in Huntsville City Schools. The collaboration is part of Toyota’s Driving Possibilities initiative, a $110 million national career readiness program funded by Toyota USA Foundation, Toyota Motor North America and Toyota Financial Services that focuses on PreK-12 education and closing educational gaps for students with hands-on STEM programming. Huntsville is the fifth site for the initiative that includes a five-year phased rollout, beginning with $2.9 million that will go to the Huntsville Chamber Foundation and make its way to support the industrial tech program at the Huntsville City Schools Career Tech Center scheduled to open in 2025. Until the center opens, a modified program is being offered at Jemison High School. Part of the $6.7 million investment also includes a $750,000 grant to support new teacher coaches, training and mentorship opportunities at select Huntsville City Schools in partnership with the New Teacher Center.

“The Driving Possibilities framework provides a holistic approach to addressing gaps in education,” Puckett said in a statement in August. “Our mission is to collaborate with local schools, community partners and other businesses, to help students reach their full potential. The success of our students will determine the future of our community.”

Katherine MacGilvray is a Huntsville-based freelance contributor to Business Alabama.

This article appears in the March 2024 issue of Business Alabama.

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