August 31, 2022
Toyota is more than doubling its investment in the electric-vehicle battery plant planned for the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite and adding 20% more jobs than previously announced while saying even more growth may be yet to come.
Toyota said today it’s adding $2.5 billion and 350 jobs to the $1.29 billion investment and 1,750 jobs it announced last December. That will bring the total investment to $3.8 billion and the total number of jobs in the first phase of the project to approximately 2,100 jobs. The company is aiming to start production in 2025 at Toyota Battery Manufacturing, North Carolina, as the battery plant is called.
The investment adds capacity to support production for battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs. The plant will make batteries for both battery-electric and hybrid electric vehicles, known as HEVs, such as Toyota's well-known Prius.
“This plant will serve a central role in Toyota’s leadership toward a fully electrified future and will help us meet our goal of carbon neutrality in our vehicles and global operations by 2035,” said Norm Bafunno, senior vice president for Unit Manufacturing and Engineering at Toyota Motor North America.
“This is an exciting time for Toyota, the region and the many North Carolinians we will soon employ,” said TBMNC President Sean Suggs. “This incremental investment reflects our continued commitment to ensuring jobs and future economic growth for the Triad region.”
This is not the second phase of the plant that was mentioned as a possibility in the original site announcement, but Bafunno told the Triad Business Journal that more investment in the site is possible and even likely.
Instead, Toyota's decision is an incremental increase tied to clear indications of the demand for electrified vehicles, Bafunno told the Triad Business Journal.
“As we continue to watch the marketplace a little bit and we see that conversion going, we feel like we’ve got to get ready, and the time to do that is now.”
Expansion provides added flexibility
Nor is it a shift necessarily to toward all-battery electric models of cars and trucks. Toyota’s Prius was the first major-brand hybrid to gain wide acceptance, and Toyota has largely emphasized hybrids over all-battery since then, rolling out its first all-electric model, the bZ4X, only early this year.
The increase in capacity in North Carolina is still part of Toyota’s strategy of having a mix of hybrid gasoline-electric, plug-in hybrids, all-battery, and at some point fuel-cell electric vehicles for consumers to choose from.
“We think the portfolio approach is one that we still want to move forward with,” Bafunno said. “We still want to capture all of the audience in terms of the customer demand that's out there. We have to work very hard on things like reducing the costs of pure battery electric vehicles. And those are the things we're working on hard, but the other alternatives are out there today.
"We're very proud of those alternatives. They’re reliable, dependable and with very good customer response. So I wouldn't characterize this as a direct shift. I think it's adding more to the portfolio approach.”
Toyota's news follows recent federal legislation meant to stimulate domestic electric-vehicle production, California’s decision to ban the sale of most new internal-combustion engines in 2035, and industry forecasts of rapid growth in electric demand.
“We still think this is only the beginning. And we have a long and bright future," Bafunno said. "This is really to support the electrification activity that's under way for Toyota here in North America.”
He added: “We do anticipate more growth. But we look at this as incremental growth to get us ready for those customers in 2025.”
Site preparation on schedule
The employee headcount isn’t doubling because the investment expansion is tied to the shift to more all-electric production, however.
“These battery-electric batteries are larger; they have more capacity because that's going to be the single propulsion unit for the entire vehicle,” Bafunno said. “The footprint changes. As a result, so does the process equipment design as well as the building design.”
Site preparation is on schedule, Bafunno said.
“There's a lot of slope to that land, and we've got to level it out to get the buildings in the right spaces. And that's all on schedule right now. We feel good about it.”
Toyota has named local leadership led by Suggs and a human resources representative. It's looking to hire people with good communication skills, the ability to work as a team, and who want to learn, Bafunno said.
“The job security that we provide, the wages and benefits are going to be outstanding. But more than that, it's this teamwork and, you know, we're looking for people that can help us achieve something we've never done before, which is creating batteries and electrification, for the first time in North America. So it's kind of a neat, exciting future ahead for them.”
Like nearly all manufacturers, Toyota strategically is trying to simplify and localize its supply chains when possible. There’s nothing to announce locally now, but it’s the company’s general aim as it boosts electrification.
"Toyota's philosophy is one that says we want to build product where it's sold, and you can see that with the configuration of the product and plants that we have here in the U.S. and North America," Bafunno said. "And we're going to continue that same thing with electrification. …
"We have a whole team of our Purchasing Group in North America that is looking at supply chain configurations, both for raw materials and also for refining. But it's very strategic and very important that we expand it right here in this region. And we're working toward that.”
Toyota has opened an email address for any businesses interested in potentially becoming suppliers for TBMNC, including any business from cleaning services to lawn maintenance to security services. The address is: TBMNC.Potential.Supplier@toyota.com
Source: Triad Business Journal
August 18, 2022
ASHEBORO — What will be the encore after a year of unprecedented industrial development in Randolph County?
While celebrating Toyota Battery coming to the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite and Technimark announcing expansion to create 220 new jobs, the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation’s annual meeting addressed the question: What’s next?
The meeting was held Aug. 9 at Pinewood Country Club with representatives from business, government and education present. Scott Darr, outgoing chair of the EDC Board of Directors, and Bob Crumley, incoming chair, addressed the successes of the year and looked toward the future.
“2021-2022 was a success by any measure,” Darr said. “But we’re gearing up for more work, where we go from here.”
The biggest plum in economic development, not only for the year but the largest in the county’s history, was Toyota’s plan to invest $1.29 billion to build its first electric vehicle battery plant in North America.
The manufacturing facility will employ 1,750 workers in four production lines, each capable of producing 200,000 lithium-ion batteries annually. Production is planned to begin in 2025.
Technimark, an Asheboro-based global plastic injection molding manufacturer, announced plans to invest $62 million to expand its healthcare production operations while creating more than 200 jobs, which will increase its total workforce in the county to some 1,600. The company is currently the county’s largest private sector employer.
Other expansions announced during the fiscal year are Mickey Truck Bodies in Trinity, Kraftsman Trailers in Ramseur, Hafele America in Archdale and Aeolus Filter Corporation in Archdale.
For the 2021-2022 fiscal year, a total of 2,042 new jobs, investments exceeding $1.36 billion and economic development grants of $400,000 were reported in the county. Those investments will bear fruit within five years.
Despite all the good news, Darr said Randolph County is behind others in the region at providing shovel-ready industrial sites. There are sites in Archdale and Sophia that are being developed but many more locations are needed to attract business.
Crumley unveiled committees to find solutions to problems facing Randolph County.
Daniel Morris of Pinnacle Bank will head a group to create an inventory of potential industrial sites, utilizing public/private partnerships to prepare spec buildings to attract industry.
Another committee, chaired by Shelley Greene of Randolph Community College, will work to attract new workers to the county. Of particular interest will be military men and women leaving the Armed Services from bases such as Fort Bragg.
Other goals listed by Crumley include letting existing businesses know who the EDC is and how it can help them. He also wants the EDC to develop a five-year work plan that would take the county to the next level.
“These won’t be do-nothing committees,” Crumley said. “We have a lot on our plate but I’m excited about it. We’re ready to tackle the issues.”
Kevin Franklin, EDC president, introduced speakers from Technimark and Toyota to talk about their companies’ plans. Chris Clark of Technimark said their expansion will increase the company’s production of healthcare proponents.
Clark said Technimark has 12 global sites and more than 5,000 employees worldwide with annual revenues of $825 million. The company, he said, is No. 9 in its industry.
Recognizing the employees as critical to Technimark’s success, he said the company is committed to them. The company is also cognizant of its impact on communities, providing “little libraries,” and providing resources to Project Hope, United Way and the American Red Cross.
As the global headquarters of Technimark, Asheboro has an innovation center and five production plants, and pays wages above the Randolph County average.
Speaking for Toyota was Don Stewart, vice president of manufacturing in North Carolina.
He said the company’s first concern is to “create a safe worksite.” Once production begins in 2025, he said, they’ll provide batteries for hybrid vehicles, making cells and modules to ship to vehicle assembly plants.
Stewart said Toyota has 15 plants in North America and has built 42 million vehicles here. He said 75 percent of the company’s vehicles sold in America are built here.
So, what were Toyota’s criteria for selecting the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite? Stewart listed the close proximity to the supply chain, the high-quality education system and the diverse workforce. “The Megasite exceeds all our expectations,” he said.
Of great importance to his company, Stewart said, is “reducing carbon emissions.” Toyota plans to expand its fleet to 70 electrified models, with hybrids being a big part. Toyota is the top seller of hybrids in the United states, he said, adding that Toyota’s goal is for its vehicles in North America to be carbon neutral by 2030 and globally by 2050.
Grading of the Megasite began in January, the executive team began arriving in June and construction of the first building began in July. The leadership team should be on site this fall and hiring will begin next year. The first batteries will come off the production lines in 2025.
Franklin concluded the meeting, saying the assembled group had seen a “picture of really great things happening in the county. Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to come.”