Is Toyota a sleeping giant, poised to exploit the wimpy waffling of GM and Ford, and become the EV powerhouse it should be? Or will the company continue paying lip service to e-mobility while clinging to 20th-century technology?
Who knows? We won’t presume to read the green tea leaves, but we are happy to report that the Japanese automaker plans to invest an additional $8 billion in its first North American battery manufacturing facility.
The project, Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina, was first announced in 2021, and the company’s planned investment now totals $13.9 billion. Toyota says it will manufacture batteries for hybrids and EVs using 100% renewable energy at the 1,825-acre site in Liberty, North Carolina. The plant is expected to be completed in 2025, and to create more than 5,000 jobs.
The smell of jobs always whets politicians’ appetites, and North Carolina’s government has tempted Toyota’s tummy with a buffet of goodies. Governor Roy Cooper even traveled to Tokyo and met with Toyota President Koji Sato. “Our partnership with Toyota has become stronger than ever, culminating in this historic announcement,” said Governor Cooper. “North Carolina’s transition to a clean energy economy is bringing better-paying jobs that will support our families and communities for decades to come.”
President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has set off a tsunami of investment, particularly in the Battery Belt of the Southeast. North Carolina has reportedly become one of the top four US states for EV-related investment over the past year, heaping over $10 billion on its plate. Vietnamese automaker VinFast is building a plant in Chatham County. EV component manufacturers, including Epsilon Advanced Materials, Deere & Company, Kreisel Electric, Kempower and Wolfspeed, are also investing large sums.