TOKYO - Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. said Friday they plan to spend $1.6 billion to set up a joint-venture auto manufacturing plant in the U.S. — a move that will create up to 4,000 jobs.
The plant will have an annual production capacity of about 300,000 vehicles and will produce Toyota Corollas for the North American market. Mazda will make cross-over models there that it plans to introduce to that market, both sides said.
The companies will split the cost for the plant equally.
Toyota said that it changed its plan to make Corollas at a plant in Mexico, now under construction, and instead will produce Tacoma pickups there.
The Japanese automakers were reportedly planning to work together to develop electric vehicles.
EVs have become an increasingly competitive market segment because of concerns about global warming and the environment.
Japanese rival Nissan Motor Co., which is allied with Renault SA of France and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., is the global leader in electric vehicles.
In the past, Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, Camry sedan and Lexus luxury models, was not overly bullish on electric vehicles, noting the limited cruise range of the technology. But recent breakthroughs in batteries allow for longer travel per charge.
In 2015, Toyota and Mazda agreed to find new areas where they can work together, but they had not announced specifics.
Toyota already provides hybrid technology to Mazda, which also makes compact cars for Toyota at its Mexico plant.
Mazda, based in Hiroshima, Japan, used to have a powerful partner in Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co., which bought 25 percent of Mazda in 1979, and raised it to 33.4 percent in 1996. But Ford began cutting ties in 2008, and has shed its stake in Mazda.