While Kentucky was chosen late last month as the site for two plants to build batteries for Ford electric vehicles, the state is also reported to be one of five in the running for a new plant site that would make batteries for Toyota electric cars and trucks.
Ford and SK Innovation are investing $5.8 billion and hiring 5,000 people, which is the largest economic development project in state history. It means Kentucky will shatter every annual economic development record in the books for yearly investment totals and is on pace for the best job-creating year in history.
Toyota Motor North America has a project on a little smaller scale. TMNA officials said they 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.
National media outlets say the new Toyota plant would likely be near one of the company’s current U.S. assembly plants, which include Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, Alabama or Texas.
According to Toyota, the Georgetown, Kentucky facility is their largest vehicle manufacturing plant in the world, on a more than 1,300-acre site, which is capable of producing 550,000 vehicles and more than 600,000 engines annually.
They broke ground in May of 1986 and two years later produced theirs first Camry. Since then, more than 12 million vehicles have rolled off the Georgetown assembly lines, where full-time employment is now more than 8,000.
In addition to the Camry, Toyotas Motor Manufacturing Kentucky makes the Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, RAV4 Hybrid, Lexus ES 300h and Lexus ES 350, as well as four-cylinder and V-6 engines.
When asked by Kentucky Today about the state’s chances for the battery plant, Gov. Andy Beshear would not say.
“I can’t speak to any potential target and/or any opportunity for economic development right now, as any talks, if there are any, are confidential,” he said. “Confidentiality is so important to companies as they make their plans. Whether it’s for the competitors or shareholders or the rest.”
Corporate site selection expert John Boyd Jr., told the Dallas Morning News that Toyota’s just-announced battery plant can be described as a potential “trophy” and “economic engine” for the state that receives it, and sees Texas at the top of that list, since Toyota’s North American headquarters is in Plano, but hedged his bet.
“Any diligent, competent site search for electric vehicle production includes states like Tennessee and Texas,” Boyd told the paper, “and increasingly Kentucky and Indiana.”
Toyota, which currently offers one battery electric vehicle, the Lexus UX300e, says they plan to have 15 available by the time the new battery plant begins production in 2025.