Toyota Invests $391 Million In San Antonio Toyota Plant | Texas Public Radio

Toyota Invests $391 Million In San Antonio Toyota Plant

Sep 17, 2019

Toyota is investing $391 million into its manufacturing plant on San Antonio’s South Side.

The Japanese company said the money is part of a total $13 billion investment of its U.S. operations. The money won’t be used towards new jobs, but injected into the plant’s current operations to make sure it stays up-to-date. It would also slightly increase the size of the plant.

This is the third investment for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas since the plant was founded in 2003. It produces the Tacoma and Tundra trucks.

Chris Reynolds, Toyota’s chief administrative officer for North America, said the funding was to upgrade the factory so it stays flexible as the market shifts.

“Right now it’s doing a great job of turning out Tacomas and Tundras, but we want to make sure that they’re turning out more Tacomas and Tundras, and then those models get refreshed, newer Tacomas and Tundras and perhaps other models as the auto market evolves,” Reynolds said. “But in order to make sure that happens in a timely and efficient way, we need to invest now and that’s what we’re doing. It’s really a bet on the long-term future of Toyota Texas here in San Antonio.

The plant, located off Applewhite Road, is about 2.2 million square feet. The investment would increase that footprint by about 130,000 square feet and construction on the new spaces is expected to begin before the end of the year.

While Toyota employs about 3,200 employees directly at the plant, there are 23 companies on-site who act as supplies who employ about 4,000 people.

“What it means is more opportunities to build,” Reynolds said. “Nobody gets paid, nobody has a job, unless we can build the right cars for the customer who wants them and so that’s what this investment is intended to do, to enable the San Antonio plant to be in a better position in the future.”

One of Toyota’s suppliers, Aisin, made a similar announcement it would bring about 900 jobs to Cibolo, a San Antonio suburb, by investing about $400 million in a facility that would be constructed in the future.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott touted the investment next to the two companies at a press conference on Tuesday.

“These two companies are making huge contributions to the Texas economy, and they’re also becoming such important parts of the community fabric here in San Antonio, up in the Plano area, and the across the entire state,” Abbott said.   

Toyota also made a $500,000 contribution to the Alamo Colleges to fund its Alamo Promise scholarship program. Alamo Promise launches next year and covers tuition costs for Bexar County high school students.   

When asked about President Trump’s threats of tariffs and trade wars and how that might affect long term supplies for the Texas plant, Reynolds said he hoped certain types of tariffs would never come to pass.

“The tariff situation and the trade wars really don’t provide the best environment for growth, but Toyota’s growth decisions are not based on the short term. We think in the terms of the five, 10, 15 and 20 year horizons,” Reynolds said. “Hopefully a year from now no one will be talking about tariffs and trade wars.”

In May, the City of San Antonio approved an eight-year tax abatement incentive package for Toyota as the company was evaluating which plants to upgrade.  Bexar County approved a similar abatement package in June. 

“Toyota is making significant investments in the permanence of its position here and the ability for new jobs to be sustained,” Nirenberg said.

A study by San Antonio’s Economic Development Foundation predicts that over ten years, the investment made by Toyota could lead up to 40,000 jobs. 

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.