Toyota To Invest $2.1 Billion in N.C. Battery Plant & Build Kentucky SUV Factory

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Toyota has revealed plans to invest an additional $2.1 billion in the construction of an electric and hybrid vehicle battery factory near Greensboro, North Carolina. This facility will play a crucial role in supplying batteries to Toyota’s expansive complex located in Georgetown, Kentucky, where the company intends to manufacture its first electric vehicle to be produced in the United States. The upcoming electric SUV will feature three rows of seats, offering customers a spacious and versatile option.

While the recent announcement does not immediately translate into an increase in job opportunities at the Kentucky or North Carolina factories, Susan Elkington, the President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, emphasized that this new vehicle signifies the company’s commitment to transitioning toward an electrified future. Elkington also mentioned that the three-row SUV aligns with the growing demand in the market, although she refrained from divulging specific details about the vehicle during the announcement, instead focusing on the significance of the manufacturing location.

The North Carolina battery factory is projected to employ approximately 2,100 workers and is scheduled to commence production in 2025. This substantial investment serves to bolster the infrastructure necessary for future expansion. Toyota’s total investment in the Randolph County plant will amount to $5.9 billion, a considerable sum that underscores the company’s objective of selling 1.8 million electric or hybrid vehicles in the United States by 2030. The construction of the plant commenced in 2021 when Toyota broke ground.

At present, the vast 9 million-square-foot Kentucky complex employs 9,500 individuals who are involved in the production of various vehicles, including the Camry sedan, RAV4 Hybrid SUV, and multiple engines and components. Toyota anticipates a shift in employment to the new electric vehicle once production begins in 2025.

According to a statement issued by Toyota, the North Carolina battery plant will comprise six battery production lines, with four designated for gas-electric hybrid vehicles and two specifically dedicated to fully electric vehicle batteries. The facility’s location near Greensboro is strategically advantageous, as it is in proximity to several of Toyota’s existing U.S. auto assembly plants in Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama, and Texas.

Sean Suggs, the President of Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina, expressed that this proactive investment in infrastructure will enable swift support for future expansion opportunities to meet the growing demand from customers.

Looking ahead, Toyota Motor Corp. aims to sell 2 million zero-emission hydrogen and battery electric vehicles worldwide annually by 2030. In the United States, the company has set a target of selling between 1.5 million to 1.8 million vehicles that are partially electrified by the same year. Toyota’s new President, Koji Sato, has pledged a bold commitment to the “electrification” of vehicles, including hybrids, signaling the company’s dedication to embracing sustainable technologies.

Although Toyota has faced criticism from environmental groups for its slower adoption of electric vehicles and continued reliance on hybrids, the company defends its approach by emphasizing a “portfolio approach” that offers various options to consumers. Toyota believes that electrification encompasses a range of technologies, such as hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, and all-electric vehicles. This gradual approach to electrification aligns with customer preferences, as Toyota acknowledges the diversity of needs and preferences in the market.

Toyota has already introduced the bZ4X electric compact crossover, which utilizes the e-TNGA platform (Toyota New Global Architecture). This platform is also utilized in the production of the Prius and Lexus models and was developed collaboratively with Subaru. The bZ4X is currently available in several countries, including Japan, the United States, Germany, Britain, China, and Thailand. Furthermore, Toyota recently announced the forthcoming release of the bZ3 electric car in China, developed through a partnership with Chinese EV manufacturer BYD Co., alongside state-owned Tianjin FAW and other collaborators.

Source: APNews


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