Toyota is doubling its investment in electric vehicles at its North Carolina plant as competitors retreat

Toyota is doubling its investment in electric vehicles at its North Carolina plant as competitors retreat

Toyota (TM) is now doubling down on its efforts to build out its battery capacity in the United States. The automaker announced Tuesday that it will expand its investment in a battery manufacturing plant in North Carolina (TBMNC) by nearly $8 billion, an investment that will also add nearly 3,000 new jobs. Toyota says this new investment brings its total spending on the upcoming facility to $13.9 billion, while creating 5,000 jobs in total.

The Liberty-based plant will manufacture batteries for Toyota’s electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles. Toyota says eight additional production lines will now be added to the two previously announced, with the capacity to produce 30 GWh per year by 2030. Assuming a battery size of 50 kWh, that would mean an annual capacity of 600,000 EV battery packs per year.

Toyota says the plant will start making batteries by 2025, and by then it expects to have an “electrified” option for every Toyota and Lexus globally. The Japanese automaker said it currently offers 26 “electrified” options, more than any other automaker. Toyota arrives at this number by accounting for all of the many hybrid options it offers across products like the Prius, RAV4 Hybrid, and Highlander Hybrid, for example. Toyota only offers two pure electric vehicles at the moment – ​​the bZ4X SUV and its twin, the Lexus RZ.

Toyota Motor Corp. CEO Koji Sato, standing in front of an FT-Se sports car, speaks during a press conference about the Japan Mobility Expo media day in Tokyo, Wednesday, October 25, 2023. (Hiro Komae/AP Photo)

Toyota’s transformation comes after a change in leadership late last year. Akio Toyoda stepped down as president in April 2023, handing the reins to Koji Sato, who became the new CEO.

While Toyoda became Chairman of the Board of Directors, the change in management leadership was made to strengthen Toyota’s efforts in electric vehicles. Toyoda was considered an electric car skeptic, or at least someone who believed the electric car transition would take some time.

“Just like the fully self-driving cars we’re all supposed to drive now, electric cars will take longer to become mainstream than the media wants us to believe,” Toyoda said at the automaker’s annual sales meeting in Las Vegas. Vegas last year.

However, Toyota’s new CEO believes electric vehicles are still vitally important to the Japanese automaker as it sets its game plan for the future, although he is cautiously optimistic.

“Battery electric vehicles are the missing piece,” Sato told Automotive News last week at the Tokyo Motor Show. “But we won’t release something that’s not perfect just because there’s a deadline. We’ll make sure it’s developed to perfection.”

With rivals like Ford and General Motors withdrawing from plans to expand electric vehicles and batteries in the United States, Toyota’s latest move could be considered surprising, although it could be argued that Toyota has been lagging behind in electric vehicle investments and needs to catch up with its competitors. . Perhaps a slight slowdown in demand for electric vehicles here in the United States will give the Japanese automaker the time it needs.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow it Twitter and on Instagram.

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