A report published in AL.com (Alabama) highlights the struggle that many manufacturers are facing today; A lack of available workers and struggles to retain workers already employed. In its newest manufacturing plant building its newest crossover SUV, the CX-50, Mazda is struggling to keep up its pace.
Mazda’s plant in Alabama, called Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc.” (MTMUS) is shared with Toyota. The plant has 3.1 million square feet under its roof. It was built over the past three years so that both brands could offer domestically-built crossover SUVs and other vehicles to the North American market without having to import the vehicles. The new plant employs just under 4,000 people.
AL.com cites an original report in Automotive News and quotes Mazda Senior Managing Executive Officer Masahiro Moro as saying, “Retention is not so easy, so the local staff has been working hard to provide training and ensure employee retention,” Moro said. “We work to ensure stable operations on one shift there, and then look to move to two-shift operations. So, we are pushing back the two-shift timeline a little.”
In its latest deliveries update from the end of October 2022, Mazda reported that the company had delivered just over 16,000 CX-50s. By contrast, the company had delivered over 125,000 similarly-sized CX-5s. The two vehicles share the same powertrains, infotainment, and many other components.
Mazda had also delivered 44,000 CX-30 crossovers, a vehicle that is just a bit smaller than the CX-50 and CX-5. Like Subaru and other brands, Mazda is working hard to keep pace with the demand for five-passenger crossover SUVs, America’s top-selling vehicle type.
A second shift fully staffed could enable Mazda to add 50% or more volume to its current pace of around 2,500 CX-50s. The total budget to build the plant, not including staffing and operating costs, was $1.6 billion. In November 2016, Toyota issued a press release that said its expectations were that as many as 300,000 vehicles per year could be produced at the plant by 2021when it was fully operational.
Toyota and Mazda have set up a website to attract workers. Jobs in production, tool and die, and management are presently open.
Image of auto worker in Alabama courtesy of Toyota
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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