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Toyota plans to spend up to $2.5b expanding North Carolina EV battery factory

All part of an extra 40GWh of production capacity in US, Japan by 2026

Toyota says it plans to invest up to an additional $5.3 billion in electric vehicle (EV) battery production that it will split between facilities in the US and Japan. 

According to Nikkei, more than half of the pledged investment (¥400 billion out of ¥730 billion, or $2.9 billion out of $5.3 billion) will be allocated to a domestic battery production facility Toyota operates in partnership with Panasonic, as well as Toyota's own sites, in Japan.

As much as ¥325 billion, approximately $2.3 billion, is set to be spent on scaling up the Toyota Battery manufacturing North Carolina (TBMNC) plant being built outside of Liberty, NC, Toyota said

The additional funding would add approximately 40GWh of battery manufacturing capacity to Toyota's assembly lines in the two countries, which are scheduled to come online between 2024 and 2026, the automaker said.

TBMNC was announced in 2021 with an initial investment from Toyota of $1.29 billion. The money Toyota talked about today brings the total investment in the facility to $3.8 billion, which the Japanese carmaker said will add an additional 350 jobs to the previously calculated 1,750 it said the plant would create. 

Money for the initial construction of the North Carolina facility came from a $70 billion vehicle electrification investment Toyota rolled out last December, not long after it declined to sign a pledge along with other major automakers committing to phase out fossil fuel vehicles by 2040. Toyota said at the time it didn't believe the timetable was feasible for all regions of the world. 

Nevertheless, Toyota has been vocal about its electrification strategies, which include the North Carolina battery plant. Toyota Motor North America's SVP for Unit Manufacturing and Engineering, Norm Bafunno, said the facility will be a central part of Toyota's plans to move "toward a fully electrified future and will help us meet our goal of carbon neutrality in our vehicles and global operations by 2035." 

Toyota's electrification strategy has included working on a closed loop battery system with Redwood Materials. Under the plan, the battery recycling firm would collect, recycle, refurbish and re-manufacture new Toyota EV batteries from old ones. Redwood has similar partnerships with other EV manufacturers and battery companies, and also said it plans to expand its North Carolina operations to serve Toyota's new battery factory. 

Toyota also entered the residential energy storage market this year with a Tesla Powerwall-like battery called O-Uchi Kyuden. The system is only available in Japan, can store power from solar panels, and is also capable of vehicle-to-grid charging. 

In sales numbers for the first half of 2022 reported yesterday, Toyota said it has sold 6.1 percent fewer vehicles than last year. Vehicle production declined just a bit more - 6.9 percent - due to impacts from the continuing spread of COVID-19 and ongoing shortages in semiconductor supplies, Toyota said. ®

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