Toyota just upped the stakes to remain the top manufacturer of hybrid vehicles worldwide with a US$373.8m investment in five US Manufacturing plants that will support production of its first American-made hybrid powertrain and to implement Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) at its Alabama plant. Each of the projects is scheduled to begin this year and all should be operational by 2020.

The investments will include adding new production of hybrid transaxles (hybrid vehicle transmissions) at the Buffalo, West Virginia, manufacturing facility; expanding 2.5-litre engine capacity at the Georgetown, Kentucky, plant; increasing production of 2.5-litre cylinder heads at Bodine Aluminium’s Troy, Missouri, plant; and modifying the Bodine Jackson plant to accommodate production of hybrid transaxle cases and housings and 2.5-litre engine blocks. The Huntsville, Alabama, plant will undergo a comprehensive upgrade to enable it to build engines that complement TNGA.

“This investment is part of our long-term commitment to build more vehicles and components in the markets in which we sell them,” said Jim Lentz, CEO, Toyota Motor North America. “This strategy is designed to better serve our customers and dealers, and positions our manufacturing operations to fulfil their needs well into the future.”

The 2.5-litre engines manufactured in Kentucky and transaxles made in West Virginia will be used in hybrid vehicles built in North America such as the Highlander Hybrid manufactured in Princeton, Indiana. Toyota remains the world leader in gas-electric hybrids, surpassing 3m sales in the US and 10m globally.

Fifty new jobs will be created because of the investment at the Alabama plant. There will be no net gain of jobs at the Kentucky, West Virginia, or Bodine Aluminium facilities, but these investments will help to ensure the stability of the plants’ employment levels in the future.

“This investment across five American plants expands capacity for our latest TNGA engines, and localises production of hybrid powertrains, a core Toyota technology,” said Jeff Moore, senior vice president for Manufacturing. “It underscores Toyota’s confidence in the capability and global competitiveness of our North American manufacturing.”

The total investment of $373.8m will be distributed as follows:
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky – $120,960,000
Bodine Aluminium Jackson, Tennessee – $14,500,000
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia – $115,300,000
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama – $106,000,000
Bodine Aluminium Troy, Missouri – $17,050,000

These projects, and others previously announced, move Toyota nearly halfway ($4.1bn) toward its commitment to invest $10bn in the US as announced by CEO Akio Toyoda in January 2017.