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Toyota to build electric 3-row SUV in Kentucky, batteries in N. Carolina



Toyota’s factory in Georgetown, Kentucky, will get a bit of a glow-up. This week, the automaker confirmed that its factory in the Bluegrass State will assemble a new battery-electric vehicle starting in 2025. It will be an as-yet-unnamed three-row SUV, and the batteries for this new BEV will come from (somewhat) nearby North Carolina.

Toyota’s Kentucky plant currently builds the powertrains and assembles the RAV4 hybrid, as well as sedans like the Camry and Lexus ES. It employs about 8,000 people to build more than half a million vehicles a year.

“Toyota Kentucky set the standard for Toyota vehicle manufacturing in the US, and now we’re leading the charge with BEVs,” said Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky. “Our incredible team of Kentuckians is excited to take on this new challenge while delivering the same great quality and reliability our customers expect.”

The company says it’s spending another $2.1 billion on its battery facility in North Carolina; together with initial investments, it says it is spending a total of $5.9 billion on battery manufacturing in North America. The plant will include two lines that build batteries for BEVs and four for hybrid cars.

The decision to build a three-row BEV in Kentucky is unlikely to have taken long. Changes to tax incentives in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act mean that a vehicle has to be assembled in North America to qualify, as do escalating amounts of the battery packs those vehicles require.


And changes to the way that corporate average fuel efficiency is calculated means that from 2027, automakers will have to sell four times as many EVs as they do now. Toyota has actively lobbied against requirements to build more BEVs, but the OEM is investing significant sums in US BEV-building infrastructure, and new leadership appears to have embraced the idea of electrification more enthusiastically.

The American love for big three-row SUVs doesn’t appear to be diminishing, so the company will need to sell quite a few fully electric ones to offset even relatively efficient hybrids like the Highlander, assuming those rules go into effect.

Source: Ars Technica

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