Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama is back at work, so to speak.
The Huntsville plant, which employs more than 1,300 people, is part of a Toyota-wide shutdown of manufacturing facilities across North America because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the Toyota plant in Huntsville said Thursday that it will begin producing thousands of face shields for healthcare workers.
“With our plant idled, Toyota Alabama is eager to contribute our expertise and know-how to help quickly bring to market the equipment needed to combat COVID -19,” the company said in a statement.
Toyota will make 7,500 face shields to donate to local hospitals as well as donate 160 pairs of safety glasses along with a $25,000 donation to the United Way of Madison County.
“In response to COVID-19, Toyota is continuously looking for ways to support local organizations with essential supplies,” the company statement said. “This includes funding support and donations of critical items such as personal protective equipment.”
The Huntsville engine plant produces about one-third of all Toyota engines built in the United States. In 2018, the plant churned out about 630,000 engines. The Huntsville plant is also the only Toyota plant in the world that produces 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder engines under one roof.
The plant broke ground in 2001 and undergone seven expansions – the latest announced last year that will increase engine production to about 900,000 per year by the end of 2021. The expansion also calls for creating at least 450 new jobs and, once completed, Toyota will have invested more than $1 billion in the Huntsville plant.