Electric cars are indeed the future of automobiles, but Toyota thinks there’s still room for 4-cylinder combustion engines as the automaker pumps $383 million into its production in the United States. The funds will be distributed in four different locations across the country. According to the manufacturer, this engine is “the heart of modern Lexus and Toyota automobiles”.
ToyotaNorm Bafunno, the unit’s senior vice president of engineering and manufacturing, said Toyota customers want electric and fuel-efficient automobiles. He further added that these expenses allow them to meet customer expectations and adapt quickly to a changing industry.
Bafunno also mentions that Toyota, as an automotive company, is committed to investing and growing in the United States, and Toyota personnel are ready to take on the new challenge.
The majority of the investment will be for Toyota’s plant in Huntsville, Alabama, which will cost the company $222 million. There, the company plans to develop a new four-cylinder assembly line, including engines for hybrid and ICE vehicles only. In addition, the plant will be expanded by 114,000 square feet. Toyota’s plant in Alabama is capable of producing 900,000 engines per year and represents an investment of approximately $1.5 billion.
Where else will Toyota invest in the United States?
Besides Toyota’s plant in Huntsville, Alabama, the company has decided to invest in three other locations in the United States, including:
1. $36 Million – Toyota Jackson, TN
Toyota Tennessee would modernize its manufacturing tool in order to produce new 4-cylinder engine blocks. The facility, which represents an investment of $425 million, has the potential to produce more than two million engine blocks per year.
2. $109 million – Toyota Troy, Missouri
The development of Toyota Missouri will offer new equipment for the production of four-cylinder engine blocks on three different production lines. The facility, which cost $564 million to develop, has a capacity of more than three million cylinder heads per year.
3. $16 Million – Toyota Georgetown, Kentucky
Toyota Kentucky is increasing the flexibility of its 4-cylinder engine lineup, which was unveiled last fall, to better equip the facility to meet customer demand. The plant’s powertrain plant has the capacity to produce approximately 600,000 units per year.
Toyota Kentucky appears to be the company’s largest manufacturing plant in the world, producing seven Lexus and Toyota vehicles as well as 4- and 6-cylinder powertrains. The Kentucky plant represents a total investment of $8.5 billion.
Toyota now offers a few four-cylinder engines of various displacements, in addition to the boxer four featured in the GR86. This investment implies that Toyota is developing a new engine, but the Company refuses to provide any further information.
Is Toyota bucking the electric car trend?
Is Toyota falling behind? Aren’t they interested in moving with the times and investing in more modern technologies like electric vehicles instead of investing in combustion engines? Well, Toyota has already announced a $3.4 billion investment in October 2021 to develop batteries in the United States.
It included the creation of a specialist battery factory, which employed 1,750 people. The company has not indicated where it intends to build this facility. Battery manufacturing at this plant is expected to begin in 2025.
Toyota also committed $5.1 billion in additional investment in its U.S. manufacturing plants last year to boost electrification efforts, demonstrating its commitment to expanding where it has sales and helping local economies.
Toyota’s US operations make half of the automobiles it sells in the United States, and its North American production lines create more than three-quarters of the automobiles it sells in the United States.
In addition to changes to its manufacturing plants, the company is spending on its future workers. Toyota unveiled Driving Possibilities, a $110 million commitment to help the foundation with education. The goal of the initiative is to strengthen communities while inspiring young people to become interested and qualified for the job market.
Why is Toyota still interested in hybrids?
Robert Carter, executive vice president – Sales of Toyota Motor North America, said the company intends to migrate from hybrid vehicles to electric vehicles when the time comes. However, hybrid vehicles require smaller batteries, which require limited resources to manufacture. Obtaining rare minerals such as lithium and cobalt for these batteries is more difficult than ever.
The battery of a hybrid vehicle can be 10 times smaller than that of a fully electric vehicle. Hybrid vehicles are technically built to increase the efficiency of their internal combustion engines. Plug-in hybrids have larger batteries that could fully power their automobiles over short distances.
So is this more of a smooth change for customers or a way for Toyota to save time while investing in its own in-house battery manufacturing? If the latter, it’s a sensible method for the company to get people into its cars while giving the company time to build its own capacity to meet growing demand.
Sources: Toyotathe reader, CBTnews.