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Toyota to Invest Another $2.1B Into North Carolina Electric, Hybrid Battery Plant

Tue June 13, 2023 - Southeast Edition #13
The Associated Press

The under-construction Toyota battery plant near Greensboro, N.C. (Toyota via AP photo)
The under-construction Toyota battery plant near Greensboro, N.C. (Toyota via AP photo)

Toyota will invest another $2.1 billion in an electric and hybrid vehicle battery factory that is under construction near Greensboro, N.C.

The plant will supply batteries to Toyota's huge complex in Georgetown, Ky., which will build Toyota's first U.S.-made electric vehicle, a new SUV with three rows of seats.

The plans will not immediately create any more jobs at either the North Carolina or Kentucky factories, according to Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, who told the Associated Press that the new vehicle reflects the company's "journey toward an electrified future."

The manufacturer plans to employ 2,100 workers at the North Carolina battery factory, which will start production in 2025. The new investment will prepare infrastructure for its expansion and bring the total investment in the Randolph County plant, between Greensboro and Asheboro, to $5.9 billion.

The added funding is designed to meet the company's goal of selling 1.8 million electric or hybrid vehicles in the United States by 2030, the AP learned.

Toyota broke ground to begin building the Tarheel State facility in 2021 and plans to begin operations there in 2025.

The battery plant will have six battery production lines, four for gas-electric hybrid vehicles and two for fully electric vehicle batteries, Toyota said in a statement. The central North Carolina site is relatively close to many of Toyota's existing U.S. auto assembly plants in Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama and Texas.

"With this proactive infrastructure investment, we will be able to quickly support future expansion opportunities to meet growing customer need," Sean Suggs, president of Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina, said in a news release.

Expansion Part of Toyota's Shift to ‘Electrification'

The AP reported that Toyota Motor Corp. plans to sell 2 million zero emission hydrogen and battery electric vehicles worldwide per year by 2030. In the U.S. market, the manufacturer looks to sell 1.5 million to 1.8 million vehicles by 2030 that are at least partially electrified.

Toyota's new President Koji Sato has promised what he called an aggressive shift on "electrification" of vehicles including hybrids.

Suggs pointed to a "portfolio approach" by Toyota that gives options to consumers.

"We truly believe that electrification is truly hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, all-electric," he told reporters in late May. "And that's what the customers are telling us as well. [We] believe that there's going to be a gradual approach to electrification going forward."

Toyota now offers the bZ4X electric compact crossover, built on what is called the e-TNGA, or "Toyota New Global Architecture" platform, also used in its Prius and Lexus models. The electric platform was developed in collaboration with Subaru.

The bZ4X is available in Japan, the United States, and parts of Europe, such as Germany and Britain, as well as China and Thailand.

Both States to Benefit From Toyota's Latest Investment

Toyota's 9-million-sq.-ft. Kentucky complex now employs 9,500 people who make the Camry sedan, RAV4 Hybrid SUV, several engines and other components. The company said jobs will shift to the new electric vehicle when production starts in 2025.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called the expansion of the North Carolina battery plant and shift to electric vehicles at his factory an "enormous announcement" that means ongoing job security for workers at the automaker's Georgetown, Ky., complex.

"All those families can be secure and know that they're going to have the security of those continuing jobs for the years and decades to come," he said.

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