Toyota Motor Corp announced on Monday that it will invest $3.4 billion to build a new battery plant in the US to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), and that it will also develop and produce a new all-electric SUV model specifically for the US market. This marks Toyota’s latest effort to catch up with rivals in the EV market, as the automaker has lagged behind in terms of EV sales compared to competitors such as General Motors and Volkswagen.
The new SUV will be built on a platform developed by Toyota, and it will be manufactured at the company’s joint-venture factory with Mazda in Huntsville, Alabama. The factory, which currently produces the Toyota Corolla compact car and the Mazda CX-30 SUV, will receive a $800 million investment to prepare for the new SUV model.
The battery plant, which will be built in partnership with battery maker Panasonic Corp, will be located in Kentucky and is expected to employ around 2,000 people. It will produce batteries for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles starting in 2025, with plans to expand production to EV batteries at a later time.
This move by Toyota is a significant step towards the company’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, as it plans to sell 2 million EVs by 2030, including hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The automaker has faced criticism for its slow shift towards EVs in recent years, but it seems to be ramping up its efforts with this latest announcement.
While Toyota has been a leader in the hybrid vehicle market with models such as the Prius, the company has been slower to adopt EVs due to concerns over range and charging infrastructure. However, with the new battery plant and SUV model, Toyota is making a clear statement about its commitment to the EV market, and it will be interesting to see how it fares against its competitors in the coming years.