Toyota to build US battery plant under US$3.4bil plan

By BLOOMBERG | 18 October 2021

DALLAS: Toyota plans to invest US$3.4 billion (RM14bil) in the US through 2030 to establish a new company and build its first US battery plant, becoming the latest global automaker to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles through a battery push.

Production would start in 2025 and at first focus on batteries for hybrid electric vehicles, creating 1,750 new jobs, the company said in a statement that didn’t disclose the location or production capacity.

The investment is specifically for battery work and won’t be used to expand vehicle-assembly capacity, a spokesman said.

The investment is part of Toyota’s global plan announced last month to spend 1.5 trillion yen (RM55bil) by 2030 on battery development and production.

The world’s No. 1 automaker expects electric vehicles to account for nearly 70% of its US sales by 2030, up from almost 25% currently.

Global automakers are boosting investments in battery production to take on EV market leader Tesla Inc.

Stellantis NV and LG Energy announced plans today to build a battery-cell factory in North America to supply the carmaker’s growing fleet of electric vehicles.

Stellantis, with brands like Jeep and Ram, has a target of raising US sales of electrified vehicles to 40% of deliveries by the end of the decade.

Ford Motor Co. last month unveiled a plan to spend US$11.4 billion with South Korea’s SK Innovation Co. to build battery and EV plants in Tennessee and Kentucky.

General Motors Co. also stepped up investments in electric and autonomous vehicles in June, with a plan to spend $35 billion (RM146bil) by 2025.

By building a new US battery plant, Toyota is pushing for a localisation of its supply chain and production know-how.

Like other carmakers, its output has been hit by supply-chain disruptions as factories in the key South-East Asian region shut down due to Covid-19.

"This investment will help usher in more affordable electrified vehicles for US consumers,” Ted Ogawa, chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, said in a statement.

The Japanese automaker’s US headquarters is in Plano, Texas, near here.

The investment may also help the automaker politically, with Ogawa saying Toyota’s electrification push is about creating American jobs while helping the environment and consumers.

As the Biden administration pushes for a sweeping clean-energy agenda, Toyota is among the foreign automakers and other non-unionised carmakers who have voiced their unease with signs that the administration favours unionised Detroit carmakers in the race to win over electric car buyers.

Last month, Toyota said a proposal by US House Democratic lawmakers to give union-made electric vehicles higher subsidies discriminates "against American autoworkers based on their choice not to unionise.”

By 2030, Toyota expects to sell 2 million zero-emission vehicles globally.

The company projects it will sell as many as 1.8 million electrified vehicles in the US, including zero-emission models.