In recent years, the loss of manufacturing jobs is a significant problem in the U.S., including the automotive industry. One may not think of a Japanese automaker like Toyota as part of the solution to this problem. However, many Toyota models are built in America, including the Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks.
Toyota Tundra and Tacoma: Built in San Antonio, Texas
The Toyota Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks are built at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas plant in San Antonio, Texas. The manufacturing plant broke ground in 2003 and started operations in 2006. It houses state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment. More than 3,200 Toyota employees work at the plant, as well as an additional 4,000 people from over 20 on-site suppliers.
With the hard work of the employees, a completed Tundra or Tacoma truck rolls off the assembly at a rate of one unit every 60 seconds. In 2020, the plant produced 170,105 trucks.
Environmental impact of Toyota in the San Antonio area
Before breaking ground on the manufacturing plant in Texas, Toyota purchased 2,678 acres of ranchland, which has historical roots dating back to 1794. Toyota donated 678 acres of this land to the City of San Antonio. The land donation created green space along the Medina River and Leon Creek, which borders the manufacturing plant.
In addition to the creation of green space, Toyota made a positive environmental impact in the area in other ways. To help lower its carbon emissions, the plant uses many solar panels. The solar panels create around 4.5 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year. Also, the plant is a zero-waste facility. It works with suppliers at the plant to recycle various materials, such as metal, cardboard, and wood pallets.
The manufacturing plant furthers its positive environmental impact by improving biodiversity. It has a vibrant pollinator garden with beautiful plants, which attract butterflies, birds, and bats. Also, the plant has a partnership with the San Antonio Zoo. For this partnership, Toyota is working with the zoo to reintroduce Texas horned lizards to the green space around the plant, which is the lizard’s native habitat.
The biggest benefit of the Toyota plant for the San Antonio community is the thousands of jobs that it supports. This has a very positive impact on the local economy. This is accomplished by directly providing livable incomes for the local population and indirectly with the many local businesses that the employees utilize.
Toyota also invests in STEM education and workforce development, with the aim of developing employees for the future. This includes a collaboration with the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The goal of this collaboration is to educate middle school children from impoverished neighborhoods about STEM careers.
Also, Toyota collaborates with the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce for the annual Alamo City Electrathon, also known as the “Ace Race.” Using a kit car donated by Toyota, children design and race their very own tiny passenger car.