Toyota joins race to build batteries in the U.S. 

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Toyota will invest $1.3 billion to build a new electric vehicle battery “megasite” near Greensboro, North Carolina, a facility to employ 1,750 workers when it opens in 2025, the automaker announced Monday.

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Initially dependent on foreign suppliers, automakers are now changing their strategy, ramping up production of electric vehicles and localizing battery production. The change means that US capacity could be enough to power 10 million or more vehicles by 2030.

While the move reflects a measure of political pressure, manufacturers also want to address the nightmare they have faced this year with a shortage of mostly foreign-made semiconductors.

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“The future of mobility is electrification and the Greensboro-Randolph megasite is the ideal place to make that future a reality,” Toyota Motor North America CEO Ted Ogawa said on Monday, praising the area’s infrastructure and skilled workforce.

The automaker said the new factory will launch with four different lines, each producing enough lithium-ion batteries to power 200,000 electrified vehicles. There will be scope to add the two lines later, bringing the total capacity to 1.2 million vehicles per year.

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Although what this actually means has not been disclosed. Where some competitors, including General Motors and Volkswagen, are shifting to fully battery-electric vehicles, Toyota is planning a mixed approach.

Congress is considering an additional $500 in tax credits for electric vehicles with US-made batteries.

By 2030, battery-electric vehicles are projected to make up 15 percent of its sales – the same as conventional gas models. The Japanese giant was a leader in the development of electrification, and expects traditional and plug-in hybrids to make up about two-thirds of its volume. The hydrogen fuel-cell will form the rest.

Long-range electric vehicles like the upcoming Toyota bZ4X require anywhere from 60 to more than 100 kilowatt-hours of battery. Traditional hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, only get at a few kWh. Plug-in hybrids fall somewhere in between.

Toyota is by no means the only automaker to add battery production. In September, Ford said it would set up three lithium-ion battery plants: two in Kentucky and a third near Memphis, part of the new Blue Oval City, a 6-square-mile campus where it would build the next-generation F-150. Will do electric pickup. Ford CEO Jim Farley told Granthshala News that in total, they would have an annual capacity of 129 gigawatt-hours — enough for 1 million electric trucks.

Meanwhile, General Motors opened its first battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, to supply batteries for the new GMC Hummer pickup. Three other North American battery plants will follow.

GM plans to have 30 BEVs for sale by 2025. By comparison, Toyota plans to sell 70 electrified vehicles by 2025, which will only be pure BEVs. The rest will be hybrids of some form or the other.

Tesla operates the giant Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada, and is adding capacity at a new assembly plant in Texas.

Stelantis and Mercedes-Benz are among other manufacturers indicating plans to add battery plants in North America. Battery suppliers such as South Korea’s LG Chem are making their presence felt. Some analysts estimate that total capacity could reach one terawatt-hour, or 1,000 gigawatt-hours, by 2030 – enough for 10 million BeV.

So far, most automotive batteries have come from Asia, mainly China and South Korea.

“Over the past 24 months we’ve seen automakers become more proactive about building their batteries as they anticipate EV sales growth,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal auto analyst at IHS Markit.

Automakers want to push production as close to their assembly plants as possible, Brinley said, “because the supply chain has become a real problem,” as demonstrated by the ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips.

“It makes a lot of sense to build things where you need them,” Brinley said. “You really don’t want to rely on one supply chain where all your batteries are shipped.”

There is also a political angle. President Joe Biden has said he wants to reduce dependence on China, and Congress is considering revised sales incentives for electric vehicles, including an additional $500 in tax credits for those with US-made batteries.

But automakers face challenges in getting into the battery business. Among other things, they are rushing to curtail supplies of key raw materials that can also come from overseas, such as lithium, nickel and cobalt.

In the long term, manufacturers need to ensure that their new plants have the facility to switch to next-generation batteries such as solid-state cells. That technology promises to deliver longer range, shorter charging times, and lower costs.

Ford executives believe they will be able to convert their new battery plants once solid-state technology is ready for mass production, and Toyota, GM and other manufacturers will also be able to make the switch. Designing plants.

Nissan said last month that it aims to begin production of solid-state batteries in 2026 and expects most of its competitors to follow before the end of the decade.

Credit: www.nbcnews.com /

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