By on October 18, 2021

Automakers Toyota and Stellantis separately announced plans to construct lithium-ion battery plants in North America on Monday. With regulatory pressures mounting, the industry has been shifting its eggs between baskets to avoid trouble. But the ultimate goal for most brands is to transition toward selling EVs, requiring meaningful action and financial expenditures on the part of manufacturers.

We’ve already seen General Motors and Ford Motor Co. squabbling over who will nestle the biggest battery facilities between America’s Frost and Sun Belts. It’s only fitting that the remnants of the Chrysler Corporation contained in Stellantis walk the path of electrification, especially now that it’s absolutely riddled with European influence. Meanwhile, Toyota is predictably exercising a bit of caution as it similarly navigates how to modernize itself via upcoming lithium-ion plants. 

Stellantis has previously stated that it plans to have 40 percent of its U.S. sales stemming from electric vehicles by 2030, necessitating $35 billion in investments when all is said and done. Toyota has set an even more aggressive target of making 70 percent of all vehicle sales be electric by 2030. But it’s less afraid to acknowledge that it will be counting hybrids in that tally and has been hesitant to embrace EVs with the same zeal as its rivals. The company has said it would earmark $13.5 billion worldwide in an effort to establish battery production and develop solid-state battery tech that’s supposedly deep in development. Toyota’s targets have gotten more ambitious of late, however, and the company is now planning to spend some of its cash reserves in North America.

From Toyota:

To drive battery production localization, Toyota Motor North America also announced today that it will establish a new company and build an automotive battery plant together with Toyota Tsusho in the U.S. Aiming to start production in 2025, the project includes an investment of approximately $1.29 billion until 2031, which includes funds that will be used to develop land and build facilities, resulting in the creation of 1,750 new American jobs.

“Toyota’s commitment to electrification is about achieving long-term sustainability for the environment, American jobs and consumers,” said Ted Ogawa, chief executive officer, Toyota Motor North America. “This investment will help usher in more affordable electrified vehicles for U.S. consumers, significantly reduce carbon emissions, and importantly, create even more American jobs tied to the future of mobility.”

The manufacturer said it hopes to have upwards of 70 products being electrified by 2025, noting that it wants 15 of those to be Toyota bZ (Beyond Zero) models wholly dependent upon electricity. But the overall focus will remain on hybridization, presumably because that’s where the brunt of sales will reside over the next decade. President of the automaker’s joint battery venture with Panasonic, Hiroaki Koda, has even stated that there’s no point in developing purely electric vehicles if they can’t be competitively priced and functionally superior to internal combustion cars.

Meanwhile, Stellantis will be joining forces with LG Energy Solutions — the company that manufactured the units that have been causing the Hyundai Kona Electric and Chevrolet Bolt to burst into flames whilst charging. Since there aren’t that many battery firms on the planet that can even work at the scale automakers need, we have to give Stellantis a pass here. LG supplies a lot of cells to a lot of customers, isn’t limited to BEV applications, and the overwhelming majority don’t seem to have thermal-runaway issues. The duo also has a standing relationship dating back to 2014 when Chrysler needed hardware for the Pacifica Hybrid.

“Today’s announcement is further proof that we are deploying our aggressive electrification road map and are following through on the commitments we made during our EV Day event in July,” stated Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares. “With this, we have now determined the next ‘gigafactory’ coming to the Stellantis portfolio to help us achieve a total minimum of 260 gigawatt hours of capacity by 2030. I want to warmly thank each person involved in this strategic project. Together, we will lead the industry with benchmark efficiencies and deliver electrified vehicles that ignite passion.”

It’s always cringe-inducing to hear a manufacturer adopting Tesla’s vernacular (e.g. gigafactory) to sell the public on something. While it’s undeniable that the American EV manufacturer has achieved incredible levels of success, it has likewise encouraged the rest of the industry to jock its style. As a result, the automotive sector has gotten substantially more comfortable with overpromising, and vows of clarity have frequently resulted in all the transparency offered by a lead ingot. It’s almost like the entire auto business is acting like Tesla’s little brother, desperate for approval and unaware that they need personalities of their own. But the industry is also being incentivized to become homogeneous, making any opinions I might have on the matter functionally irrelevant.

Stellantis’ new facility is currently under review and the company has said further details will be shared at a later date. The groundbreaking for the facility is expected to take place in the second quarter of 2022 and the company hopes to have it up and running early in 2024. But the deal needs to be finalized and no location has been settled upon thus far.

[Update 10/18/2021: An earlier version of this article was updated to more accurately represent the difference between battery electric vehicles and “electrified vehicles” (which include plug-in hybrids and hydrogen-powered cars) described by the manufacturers.]

[Image: Asharkyu/Shutterstock]

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26 Comments on “Toyota, Stellantis Announce North American Battery Plants...”

  • avatar

    I wonder how much taxpayer cash these Billion dollar companies will squeeze out of the “winning” localities in the form of tax incentives and flat out give aways? Probably a better deal than the taxpayers paying for stadiums get.

    • 0 avatar

      @kcflyer – agreed. This is more worthwhile that having a ball team in your city.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Cash” and tax incentives are not the same thing.

      Cash would be the locale writing a check to the company. Tax incentives just relieve the company from paying taxes for a while.

      Either way, it’s corporate welfare. No politician is willing to say no to jobs, no matter what, so I’m certain the practice will continue.

      Taxpayer-funded stadiums? Back in 2000, my fellow citizens of western PA got to underwrite *three* of them, despite voting down a public measure. The mayor of Pittsburgh intervened at the state level to make it happen. Somehow they argued that a sports arena is vital infrastructure – like a bridge – and deserved public funding. That was one reason I moved out of Allegheny County in 2001.

      I’d prefer the team owners write their own checks for such venues, like the local sandwich shop has to do.

      • 0 avatar

        Reminds me of St. Louis – they just keep pushing downtown stadiums as the harbinger of downtown revival, and have been doing it for almost 60 years now. Meanwhile, they’ve built no less than four downtown stadiums there since I was a kid, and downtown St. Louis is still basically a ghost town after sunset (exception being after Cardinal games).

        But that didn’t stop the city from proposing a multi-billion dollar stadium for the Rams. In true St. Louis fashion, they held a hearing about the stadium in the aldermanic chambers, but one of the chambers’ balconies had to be closed to the public during the debate, as it was prone to collapse. So…to sum up…the city can’t afford to keep City Hall standing, but it wants to spend a billion dollars on a stadium. Meanwhile, a couple of miles north of downtown, cops are outnumbered by the street gangs because of budget issues. Solution? MOARRR FOOTBALL. Makes perfect sense!

        (Speaking of downtown St. Louis, if you want a really nice 45-story office tower, there’s one there that’s completely vacant. They’ve been trying to sell it for four years now and no one wants it because no one wants to have offices in downtown St. Louis. Maybe it’s because they don’t have the fancy new football stadium…)

      • 0 avatar

        I lived in Pittsburgh during that time. Three Rivers Stadium was still not paid for despite being decades old. So how could a mayor take millions from tax payers in broad daylight and get away with it you ask? Single party rule. I also left Allegheny Co in 01, not sure it matters, the tax base ripoff was regional i’m told. What I really don’t get is why the mayor felt the need to give millions to the billionairs. The Rooneys seem like a class act and were never going to pull the Steelers out of the burg. The Bucko’s maybe, but they had been so bad so long I doubt they had much leverage.

        • 0 avatar

          Single party rule? Not really. The taxpayers in Oakland told the Raiders to get lost when they tried to extort the city for a new stadium. Meanwhile, taxpayers in far-redder Arlington TX are partially on the hook for a new (and completely unnecessary) stadium to the tune of $1.1 billion.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            I appreciate that corporate welfare knows no party, but it’s worth noting that Pittsburgh hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1933.

            The political inbreeding in that city has led to a variety of ills that have cut the city’s population in half in the last 50 years, while maintaining the illusion that it is still a big city. The answer is always the same: more sports, more taxes, and more retail outlets in the city – where nobody wants to be.

            People around here still think the Democrats stand for the little guy.

          • 0 avatar

            Freedmike You assumed i meant Democrat rule. I understand your confusion since that’s usually the case when cities self destruct. But any time politicians know they are safe from losing elections bad things happen.

      • 0 avatar

        The local sandwich shop doesn’t hold sporting events and bring in huge amounts of tax money from parking and merchandise sales.

    • 0 avatar

      Zero from CA taxpayers because these factories pose serious ecological hazard and NIMBY syndrome.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The manufacturer said it hopes to have upwards of 70 products being EVs by 2025”

    Matt: I don’t know if “EV” is your term or their term, but when it comes to hybrids I argue that if it has a gas filler, it’s not an Electric Vehicle. The fuel connection to the car is what matters, not the propulsion unit under the hood. (B&B: please no comments about coal-fired EVs…]

    A concession term is “electrified”, which sort of covers hybrids, PHEVs, and BEVs.

    Back to the original story…
    – 70 electrified products by 2025 seems wildly optimistic, per the usual green talk that is so fashionable.
    – It’s interesting that Toyota is researching solid state batteries but building lithium ion plants. I guess the solid state tech isn’t really that close to scaling yet, or still isn’t manufacturable or affordable.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, you know, trim levels and what-not…

    • 0 avatar

      I only glanced at the Press release but I don;t think it said lithium rather automotive batteries.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I have found that automakers and marketing firms use the term EV however it best suits them in the moment. And I have repeatedly seen reps say EV when they clearly meant something other than a battery electric vehicle. However the new hotness for media releases is writing “electrified vehicles” (meaning ALL alternative energy vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and anything that’s not gas-n-go) and then abbreviating it as EV later. That’s what Stellantis did this time around and it’s my bad for not being clearer. Perhaps the industry has me conditioned after so many years.

      However I am almost always talking about pure battery electric vehicles when I say EV (e.g. Model S or Chevy Bolt) and will normally differentiate between BEVs and PHEVs. I have updated the article accordingly to reflect that.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s 70 electrified Models with 15 of them BEVs by 2025. The bZ4x BEV is coming next summer. Out of the 15, 7 ( not all 15 as the article says) are Toyota bZ models. My source is Toyota.

  • avatar

    “With regulatory pressures mounting”

    You misspelled “diktats”.

    • 0 avatar

      Comrade 28 Cars you are a bit old-fashioned. It is a democratic Cancel Culture. Companies that do no conform to our democratic values will be cancelled once and for all. So it is the democratic process in action. Sorry there is no shred of fascism to be found here. Only may be a little bit healthy dose. But rest is a democratic democracy.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    “The president of the automaker’s joint battery venture with Panasonic, Hiroaki Koda, has even stated that there’s no point in developing purely electric vehicles if they can’t be competitively priced and functionally superior to internal combustion cars.”

    This is the first statement from anyone in the auto industry about EVs that rings true to me. I think Toyota is correct to focus on hybrids in the short-to-medium-term while offering a decent number of pure EVs for hard-core types.

    Who knows what will be offered to us in terms of EVs over the next decade. But if they don’t work well enough for me, I won’t be buying. But a hybrid could work even if that magic-bullet battery breakthrough doesn’t happen.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m very interested in a Tesla Model 3 Long Range because of the neat software features the car offers. (Other manufacturers could offer their own versions of the same features but have yet to do so.) One of the drawbacks, which matters here is the mountains of eastern Arizona, is a dearth of places to recharge away from home. There are places I would like to visit that are out of range for a Model 3 in a practical sense and even in an absolute sense. By comparison, a PHEV with 35 miles of range on battery would function like a BEV for my local errands while retaining effectively unlimited range for road trips.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “I think Toyota is correct to focus on hybrids in the short-to-medium-term”

      They’ve had that pretty well nailed since about 1997.

      In the future, a 50 MPG hybrid won’t cut it when today’s worst EV gets 70 MPGe, and the best is twice that.

      The idea behind EV development today is to get them into the hands of regular buyers – *not* the hard-core types, geeks, nerds, tree-huggers, or first adopters. Those days are past.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        “In the future, a 50 MPG hybrid won’t cut it when today’s worst EV gets 70 MPGe, and the best is twice that.”

        Youy may be right.. but that’s an academic point to me as long as pure EV’s come with all of the things that make them unattactive to me – like limited range (especially in cold weather), long recharge times and an underdeveloped charging infrastructure.

        “The idea behind EV development today is to get them into the hands of regular buyers – *not* the hard-core types, geeks, nerds, tree-huggers, or first adopters. Those days are past.”

        I’m sure that IS the idea. But they’re not there yet. I’m not saying they won’t be, mind you. But I would not buy a pure EV now and neither would most motorists out there. Will that change? It’s certainly possible. Already EV’s work better for many more people today than than only five years ago. But they still have a long way to go. Until EV’s are ready for prime time – they aren’t.

  • avatar

    The auto industry is at the dangerous intersection of Tesla envy and climate change hysteria. At the moment most customers are down the street, not even on hybrid blvd.

    While automakers are going all in on EVs, too many drivers still can’t pair their cellphones. EVs aren’t even in their minds yet

    What year in the near future will there be a glut of EV models on sale at massive discounts?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      2025, like everything else.

      If you don’t shop Tesla or GM, you can still get a ‘massive’ $7500 discount on other EVs. If you lease, it comes off the list price rather than your taxes.

  • avatar

    Future, future. To see the future go to Norway. Future is expensive. You may not afford it. But all homeless are welcomed in California. If you move to LA e.g. you will get $500K dog house from the The Government.

    Meanwhile NG price keeps rising.

    • 0 avatar

      NG keeps rising along with everything else. Bidenflation. Social security COLA will be 5.4 percent. So at least part of the swamp acknowledges reality, I’m guessing they were being held in check by political pressure otherwise it would have been more.

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