By KIM CHANDLER and TOM KRISHER
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama has entered the fast lane in its bid to become a major auto making hub in the South, landing a coveted $1.6 billion joint venture plant of Toyota and Mazda that is to eventually employ thousands.
The new plant will be located in Huntsville, Alabama - already a hub for the region's aerospace industry - and will produce 300,000 vehicles per year, a combination of the Toyota Corolla compact car and a new small crossover SUV from Mazda. Production is expected to begin by 2021.
Toyota and Mazda will join Mercedes, Honda and Hyundai which operate assembly plants in Alabama. The Center for Automotive Research says Alabama is tied with Tennessee as the fifth-largest producer of vehicles in the country last year, according to the Center for Automotive Research
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