Toyota plans to build a new billion-dollar battery plant in the U.S. as the Japanese automaker ramps up development and production of the key components needed for hybrid and electric vehicles.
The move is the latest in a series of similar announcements by rival automakers that also plan to build battery factories or electric vehicle assembly plants in the U.S., including General Motors and Ford.
Faced with supply constraints for batteries, automakers are increasingly looking to build parts themselves, following a path laid out by Tesla, which builds its own batteries at a plant in Nevada.
Toyota said it would spend $3.4 billion on battery investments in the U.S. through 2030, including a new $1.3 billion plant employing 1,750 workers. It did not provide additional details of how it would invest the funds, except that it would begin with batteries for hybrids.
Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin declined to name the location of the new plant but said the company would likely reveal it by the end of 2021.
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The automaker’s current U.S. manufacturing facilities are located in Texas, West Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Indiana.
The announcement comes as automakers are struggling with a global shortage of chips needed to power the electronics in their vehicles, including the computers that run electric drivetrains.
It also comes as Toyota is tussling with certain Democrats in Washington who want to expand the electric vehicle tax credit but limit its use to vehicles made in the U.S. by unionized workers. None of Toyota’s plants are unionized.
Toyota has said such a limitation to the EV tax credit would not be fair to the company or its customers.
Until recently, Toyota had largely focused its alternative powertrain development on hybrids like the Prius and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. But the company has acknowledged that it must begin investing heavily in battery-powered vehicles to keep up with the competition and meet fuel economy standards around the world.
It plans for “electrified” vehicles, which includes hybrids and electric vehicles, to make up 70% of its U.S. sales by 2030, up from 25% today.
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