A photo of an electric Toyota car [Image: BP63Vincent / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

Toyota’s Plan to Build an EV Battery Plant Highlights North Carolina’s Importance

Japan

On December 7th, Toyota Motor announced the state of North Carolina will be the location for its first US battery plant. Japan’s top automaker plans to build an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant that will make battery packs for up to 1.2 million electrified vehicles a year. The Greensboro-Randolph factory will employ 1,750 people and is scheduled to be complete by 2025 at a cost of $1.29 billion dollars.

In a press release by Toyota, Ted Ogawa, the Chief Executive of Toyota Motor North America, stated, “The future of mobility is electrification and the Greensboro-Randolph Mega site is the ideal location to make that future a reality.”

He then went on to say, “North Carolina offers the right conditions for this investment, including the infrastructure, high quality education system, access to a diverse and skilled work force, and a welcoming environment for doing business. Today marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial partnership with the Tar Heel state as we embark on our journey to achieve carbon neutrality and provide mobility for all.”

Governor Cooper carried a similar sentiment to Mr. Ogawa. According to a North Carolina government press release, Governor Cooper stated, “It’s tremendous that Toyota has selected North Carolina for such an important part of its electric vehicle future, creating good paying jobs and moving us toward a healthier environment.”

This plant is part of a broader plan for Toyota to reach carbon neutrality for its vehicles and operations by 2050. The company expects the new plant to be powered completely by renewable energy. North Carolina is an ideal state to enact this plan as the state’s solar market is ranked third nationally, making it a renewable energy leader with the infrastructure to support Toyota’s sustainable goals.

Toyota’s project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by at least $9.5 billion dollars over 20 years. The auto maker will join 131 other Japanese businesses that operate in North Carolina. Notable companies include Fuji, Asahi, Honda, and Nissan. Japanese companies have created 25,800 jobs and have invested $2.4 billion dollars in the state economy. With Toyota coming, these numbers can be expected to increase.

Japanese companies have helped to diversify North Carolina labor markets and are an important presence within the state. This can be shown most notably by the 20 culture and educational organizations throughout North Carolina. In addition, all major universities have successful Japanese culture and language programs, and offer direct international exchange opportunities to top Japanese universities. With the growing presence of Japanese businesses in the area, effective Japanese language learning opportunities, and the infrastructure to support Japan’s sustainable business goals and conduct abroad, North Carolina matters to Japan.

Shannon Wells is a participant of the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a first-year Master's of International Studies student at North Carolina State University.