Toyota is boosting investment at a plant in Kentucky by $1.3 billion as it prepares to start U.S. production next year of a three-row, all-electric SUV.
The Japanese automaker said Tuesday the added spending is earmarked for its first U.S.-made EV and other unspecified battery-powered models, and includes money for a battery pack assembly line at the factory. The cells for those packs will be supplied by a new Toyota-owned facility in North Carolina, it said.
"Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to vehicle electrification and further reinvesting in our U.S. operations,” Kerry Creech, president of Toyota Kentucky, said in a statement.
Toyota has taken a more cautious approach to introducing fully electric vehicles than peers such as Volkswagen and General Motors. Its electrification efforts have been focused mainly on hybrid gas-electric models. The company currently sells two EVs in the United States — the bZ4X and Lexus RZ 450e — both manufactured in Japan.
The investment brings total outlays at the Georgetown, Kentucky, factory to nearly $10 billion since 1986. The spending "reinforces Toyota’s commitment to high-quality vehicles and long-term job stability,” it said.
The Kentucky location is the carmaker’s oldest vehicle assembly plant in the U.S. It employs about 9,400 workers and is one of several nonunion facilities that has been targeted by the United Auto Workers in a renewed collective bargaining push.
The additional investment in the U.S. comes as Toyota is on a roll, just hours after it raised full-year earnings guidance and posted strong profit gains for the most recent quarter.