Toyota to Convert Engine Plants to Battery Factories

Japanese automaker Toyota is planning to convert its two engine and powertrain plants to produce EV batteries instead. Toyota which has long advocated against the EV push, finally appears to be making some moves to step into the EV party— better late than never.

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

Related: Japan Elevates Hybrid Policy After Toyota Chief’s Warning

Toyota President Akio Toyoda cited a rather admirable goal behind the electrified transition –protecting jobs. During a recent JAMA event, Toyoda said:

“We need medium- to long-term stable employment and the creation of a society in which everyone can have hope and confidence for the future.”

Earlier this week, Toyota also announced a $5.6 billion push to expand EV battery production in Japan and the US, which includes an additional $2.5 billion investment in its North Carolina plant in USA. The fresh funds follow Toyota’s initial $1.29 billion investment in US batteries announced last year, bringing the total amount funneled into the Liberty, North Carolina plant up to $3.8 billion.

Related: Toyota Ranked Last in Climate Performance

During the announcement, senior vice president, unit manufacturing and engineering at Toyota Motor North America Norm Bafunno said:

“This plant will serve a central role in Toyota’s leadership toward a fully electrified future and will help us meet our goal of carbon neutrality in our vehicles and global operations by 2035.”

US production of batteries is expected to begin in 2025 and the plant will of course also build hybrids. Despite its “better late than never” uptake, the Japanese automaker still intends to sell 3.5 million electric vehicles a year by 2030 across the Toyota and Lexus brands. So far however, the production of its only pure-electric vehicle– the bZ4X EV remains at halt due to unsorted mechanical failures.

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