Toyota bolsters plans for battery plant

LIBERTY — The Toyota manufacturing project at the Greensboro-Randolph megasite keeps getting bigger.

Toyota announced last week that the under-construction battery plant at the megasite would receive an additional $2.1 billion investment because of an assembly plant in Kentucky that will build battery electric SUVs.

The Kentucky operation will commence in 2025.

Toyota’s release said the boost in the North Carolina project comes “to support the company’s drive toward carbon neutrality.”

“Toyota’s continued commitment in North Carolina confirms our status as a manufacturing powerhouse,” North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger said. “This expansion further cements our thriving partnership, and it wouldn’t be possible without the reforms the General Assembly implemented to transform North Carolina into a jobs-friendly state.”

The company’s first U.S.-assembled BEV will be powered by batteries from Toyota North Carolina.

“It is exciting to see our largest U.S. plant, Toyota Kentucky, and our newest plant, Toyota North Carolina, drive us into the future together with BEV and battery production for our expanding electrified lineup,” Ted Ogawa, President and Chief Executive Officer for Toyota Motor North America.

Toyota says its investment in the North Carolina operations has been boosted to $5.9 billion.

“Toyota’s significant investment in our state, now nearly $6 billion, is terrific news and more evidence that North Carolina is a leader in the clean energy economy,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “Toyota believes in our world-class workforce to power its future success, and I appreciate this enormous commitment here.”

The facility will be Toyota’s hub for developing and producing lithium-ion batteries needed for its expanding portfolio of electrified vehicles.

Tim Moore, Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, said: “Toyota and the State of North Carolina have formed a strong partnership that will transform the future for North Carolina. Our state has proven to be –again and again – one of the best locations for companies of all sizes to do business, and Toyota’s continued investment in our state is indicative of that recognition.”

Production at the Liberty plant is slated to begin in 2025 with six battery production lines, four for hybrid electric vehicles and two for BEVs.

“The future is bright at Toyota North Carolina,” said Sean Suggs, President of North Carolina’s Toyota Battery Manufacturing division. “With this proactive infrastructure investment, we will be able to quickly support future expansion opportunities to meet growing customer need.”

Toyota has been promoting jobs and the need for hiring for positions at the plant. That campaign has been going on for months.

Toyota officials didn’t return messages seeking additional information.

By Bob Sutton