Toyota to convert engine plant in Japan to make EV batteries

Japanese automaker Toyota continues to delve deeper into the bizarre mirror world that actually behaves like a (sort of) EV carmaker. Following news this week that the EV laggard announced plans to invest $5.6 billion in battery manufacturing, Toyota is already moving to convert two engine and powertrain plants near its Japanese headquarters to produce EV batteries instead. ing.

Who is this Toyota brand, and what have they done to the hybrid-strong, gas-hungry automaker that we’ve been calling out so subtly over the last six years? do you want?

I feel like just last week I was arguing with Toyota North America’s executive vice president’s assertion that there isn’t enough demand for EVs in the US… Oh wait. was last week. Despite these comments in the US, Toyota’s headquarters in Japan has pulled its head out of the sand to push EV production further…well, at least the battery.

Earlier this week, Toyota announced a $5.6 billion push to expand EV battery production in Japan and the US, including an additional $2.5 billion investment in its North Carolina plant.

The new funding brings the total to the Liberty, North Carolina plant to $3.8 billion, following an initial $1.29 billion investment in Toyota’s U.S. battery announced last year. At the announcement, Senior Vice President of Unit Manufacturing and Engineering, Toyota Motor North America Norm Bafunno said:

The plant will play a central role in Toyota’s leadership towards an all-electric future, helping it reach its goal of carbon neutrality in its fleet and global operations by 2035.

Battery production in the US is set to begin in 2025, and the plant will of course also build hybrid vehicles (we have Toyota as we know it). But back in Japan, Toyota is even bolder by announcing that it will shift its two engine and powertrain factories to make EV batteries instead.

toyota battery
Toyota’s only BEV product – bZ4X (with wheels)

Toyota’s latest investment involves a Japanese battery

according to car news europeToyota’s aforementioned investment from earlier this week also includes funding to convert two production facilities in Japan to produce EV batteries.

The two facilities are located near Toyota’s global headquarters and have been in operation since the 1970s, the Shimoyama engine plant and the Akechi powertrain plant. The transition to EV batteries will be led by Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, a joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic.

By stepping up investment in its North Carolina footprint, followed by a steady conversion of two facilities in Japan, Toyota is adapting its current operations and staff to the new world of EV batteries. But in true Toyota fashion, they don’t want to rush into anything.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has cited a rather admirable goal behind the move to electrification: job protection. At his recent JAMA event, Mr. Toyoda shared:

We need medium- to long-term employment stability and a society in which everyone can have hope and confidence in the future.

Some might argue that society will have more hope and confidence in the future if the big conglomerates abandon their reliance on fossil fuels and carbon emissions, but it is also important to keep their employees on the job. is.

Employment figures at both Japanese facilities have been dated, but were at one point in the thousands. It said it is producing a total of 46 gigawatt hours (GWh) as it grows its network.

Despite the “better late” adoption, Japanese automakers plan to sell 3.5 million electric vehicles annually by 2030 across the Toyota and Lexus brands. we are still waiting

Electrek take

What can you say that has not yet been said?

The massive funding of battery production in multiple countries is welcome news for EVs, but I just give Toyota a pat on the top of the head and move on. An expansion in North Carolina makes a lot of sense given the new requirements of the Inflation Reduction Act, where Toyota will sell batteries to partners in the United States who are looking to make their EVs eligible for federal tax credits. You can get some cash that way.

Only one of its own BEVs is on the market during a buyback program because a wheel fell off, and Toyota wants more from selling batteries than trying to put them in its own BEVs. You can profit.

It’s clear that hybrids continue to be a major part of Toyota’s electrification strategy. yay. Like a fleeting hairline, sometimes you have to let go. It’s surprising that this move from Toyota to electrification is considered encouraging compared to the progress of many of its competitors, but here we are.

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