Toyota to triple its planned investment in US EV battery factory

Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda (L) and Panasonic Corp President Kazuhiro Tsuga attend a photo session after a joint news conference in Tokyo, Japan, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Toyota has announced that it is boosting its planned investment for a new electric vehicle battery plant in the United States. Previously, the Japanese automaker was looking to invest $1.29 billion. This number has now been raised to $3.8 billion. 

The automaker noted on Wednesday that its larger investment is partly a response to the increasing demand for electric vehicles. This is quite interesting as Jack Hollis, Toyota Motor North America’s executive vice president of sales, just recently stated that the US’ 50% EV goal for 2030 is a long shot due to lack of consumer demand

Norm Bafunno, senior vice president of powertrain manufacturing and engineering at Toyota Motor North America, stated that Toyota would be partnering with Panasonic at the Liberty, North Carolina plant through its Prime Planet Energy & Solutions (PPES) joint venture, according to a Reuters report. The Liberty plant is expected to open in 2025. 

For now, Toyota is planning on adding two production lines that are specifically designed for electric vehicle battery production at the Liberty plant. These new production lines would complement four lines which would be producing smaller batteries for hybrid vehicles. Bafunno did not reveal the Liberty plant’s planned battery production capacity, however. 

Toyota’s partnership with Panasonic could very well pay off in spades for the Japanese automaker. Panasonic may not be the world’s largest battery maker today, but the company has learned how to aggressively ramp EV battery production in a relatively short time thanks to its joint operations with Tesla at Gigafactory Nevada. Panasonic is also building a battery plant in Kansas that is expected to provide 4680 cells to Tesla Gigafactory Texas. 

The increased investment from Toyota would likely result in some notable benefits for the veteran Japanese automaker. When the company initially announced its planned $1.29 billion investment, North Carolina noted that it could boost reimbursement to the automaker by $315 million. For this to happen, however, Toyota’s investment would have to top $3 billion. 

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Toyota to triple its planned investment in US EV battery factory
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