Toyota Intends to Construct Fresh Electric Vehicles in Kentucky, Commencing With an Electric SUV: Report

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By Car Brand Experts

Toyota has been more measured in embracing electric vehicles compared to many car manufacturers, opting instead to promote its hybrid and hydrogen-fueled vehicles to American drivers. This strategy might shift with the incoming CEO, Koji Sato, who has already pledged a novel electric vehicle platform by 2026 and the full electrification of the Lexus brand by 2035. One challenge lies in competitively selling these EVs in the U.S., as it necessitates producing them locally and acquiring essential battery minerals from domestic reserves or through favorable trade agreements.

In 2021, Toyota revealed plans for a new battery facility in the U.S. What comes next? Nikkei Asia disclosed on Tuesday that Toyota is set to unveil an electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Kentucky, which is scheduled to commence production of electric vehicles as early as mid-2025. According to the report, the factory will initially focus on producing an electric SUV, although specifics are yet to be disclosed. Initially, the plant targets a production rate of 1,000 EVs per month at the outset, with aspirations to reach 10,000 units by the culmination of 2025. This production volume, albeit a small fraction of its broader objective to manufacture and sell 1 million EVs globally by the end of 2026, significantly surpasses the 24,000 EVs Toyota retailed throughout 2022. We have reached out to Toyota for input, but have not received a response yet. 

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The report did not specify the EV model Toyota is planning to manufacture in Kentucky, and whether they will establish a dedicated facility for assembly. Toyota already operates a plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, close to Lexington, where they assemble the Lexus ES 350, Toyota Camry, and notably, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. The prospect of an all-electric RAV4 is not entirely baseless; Toyota previously introduced all-electric RAV4 models twice, once from 1997 to 2003 and again from 2012 to 2014. Those RAV4 EVs were manufactured in Japan and Fremont, California, respectively, and were marketed in the U.S., mainly in California, primarily as compliance vehicles. Production volumes remained modest, with limited ranges of 100 miles or less. 

An upcoming electric RAV4 could be on the horizon, potentially with a new production facility and batteries eligible for incentives.   

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