Toyota's approach to electrification has been different. It originally bet quite heavily on hydrogen, going as far as actively lobbying against the development of battery electric vehicles, as we reported back in August. That seems to have changed and in a very big way.
Toyota announced today that it's investing $3.4 billion to make batteries for cars in the U.S. over the next decade. The press release specifically highlights that "the investment is for developing and localizing automotive battery production, including those for battery electric vehicles." So make no mistake, this is about Toyota eventually building EVs in the United States, as AN highlights.
The first order of operations will reportedly focus on investing in a new company dedicated to battery production and building a brand new battery plant in the U.S., with production due to start in 2025. It's expected to take an investment of $1.29 billion over the next 10 years and to create 1,750 jobs.
Weirdly, given the speed at which Toyota's competitors are building big factories specifically for EV platform development, the new plant—location TBD—will be making batteries for hybrid vehicles, at first. The majority of the cars Toyota sells in the States have hybrid options, but even while it's finally committing to battery-electric cars, it feels like it's still hedging a bit.
This U.S.-specific investment is part of an overall $13.5 billion that Toyota is spending on battery development and production globally, so it appears to be serious about this. Battery production techniques are a big part of Toyota's focus for the future, as well as looking at the lithium-ion supply chain and how to best localize that. Oddly enough, Toyota is one of the automakers currently peeved at not getting a union-built EV discount.
Ted Ogawa, CEO of Toyota North America said in the press release that the investment would make Toyota's electrified cars cheaper and more accessible in the U.S., although crucially didn't actually commit to making an all-battery vehicle so much as hybrids.
“Toyota’s commitment to electrification is about achieving long-term sustainability for the environment, American jobs and consumers," said Ogawa. "This investment will help usher in more affordable electrified vehicles for U.S. consumers, significantly reduce carbon emissions, and importantly, create even more American jobs tied to the future of mobility.”
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