LIBERTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Toyota USA will invest billions of dollars into a new automotive battery plant in North Carolina -- a project that amounts to the largest capital investment in state history, sources told ABC11 on Monday.
The lithium battery manufacturing plant will be built at the 1,800-acre plot called the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, which is located in Randolph County near US 421. Gov. Roy Cooper formally welcomed Toyota at a Monday afternoon news conference.
"It's tremendous that Toyota has selected North Carolina for such an important part of its electric vehicle future, creating good-paying jobs and moving us toward a healthier environment," Cooper said. "It's clear the world is beginning to embrace a clean energy future and today's decision puts North Carolina front and center."
Electrified vehicles account for nearly 25 percent of Toyota's sales volume, and the company estimates that number will increase to 70 percent by 2030.
"The future of mobility is electrification and the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite is the ideal location to make that future a reality," said Ted Ogawa, CEO of Toyota Motor North America. "North Carolina offers the right conditions for this investment, including the infrastructure, high-quality education system, access to a diverse and skilled workforce, and a welcoming environment for doing business. Today marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial partnership with the Tar Heel state as we embark on our journey to achieve carbon neutrality and provide mobility for all."
In an October announcement, Toyota said it would invest approximately $3.4 billion in automotive batteries in the United States through 2030. Specifically, the investment is for developing and localizing automotive battery production, including those for battery electric vehicles, and is part of the global total of approximately $13.5 billion (1.5 trillion yen) set aside for investment in battery development and production announced last month by Toyota Motor Corporation.
The new plant is a joint venture with Toyota Tsusho and together, the plan is to start production in 2025 and lead to the creation of 1,750 jobs. The plant will produce batteries for every hybrid and electric vehicle in Toyota's inventory.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce coordinated the state's recruitment of Toyota's new battery plant, which involved an extensive network of state, regional, and local organizations.
"Toyota's commitment to establish its North America clean energy efforts in North Carolina shows that preparation pays off enormously," said Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. "The hard work of preparing any site for business development involves not just moving dirt and laying infrastructure but investing in education, workforce development, and the collaborative networks that pull resources together. I'm proud of the people and organizations that have worked closely together over many years to make today's announcement possible."
Toyota's choosing North Carolina for its battery manufacturing plant is significant for a number of reasons, including its proximity to its vehicle manufacturing plants in places such as Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama and Texas.
The Tar Heel State is also home to several lithium mines, which given recent global supply chain issues, creates a direct line between the raw material and a manufacturing plant.
Toyota's project is estimated to grow the state's economy by at least $9.5 billion over 20 years, the time period when the grant's first phase could be active.
Salaries for the new jobs at the battery plant will vary by position but will average $62,234, increasing the regional payroll by more than $100 million every year. Randolph County's overall average annual wage is $37,865.
"I welcome Toyota to North Carolina," said Senate Leader Phil Berger. "We've worked hard to transform North Carolina into a jobs-friendly state with low taxes, reasonable regulations, and a world-class education system. As a result, companies big and small are creating jobs here, continuing a decade of growth."
House Speaker Tim Moore also lauded the effort to bring Toyota to central North Carolina.
"I am proud of the hard work the General Assembly has done to ensure North Carolina is a state ripe for new business and innovation," More said. "North Carolina consistently ranks as the nation's top state business climate. We have a balanced budget, have invested in a strong workforce, and we've maintained a AAA credit rating. As North Carolina continues to grow, Toyota's investment is a sign that we are doing the right things to attract people and businesses to our thriving state."
Stan Kelly, CEO of Piedmont Triad Partnership, said there were many "leaders behind this win," but gave special mention to former Greensboro Mayor Jim Melvin, saying Melvin "stands out as the constant voice for investing in our future, for being prepared to leverage opportunities and for constant growth and innovation as the hallmarks of a strong city, region and state."
"I've said 'A win for one is a win for all,' and today, thanks to the hard work, collaboration and persistence of leaders like Jim Melvin, our entire region and state win," Kelly said. "Successful regions invest in themselves for long-range, transformational growth and this announcement is the result of hundreds of leaders and millions of dollars invested with confidence in the Carolina Core's manufacturing excellence and the ability of our talent pipeline to support 21st-century technologies. The identification, acquisition and preparation of the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite represents regional collaboration at its best - partners coming together to share risk and assets toward a common goal of new, well-paying jobs for their communities. Today's announcement builds on our significant momentum of more than 20,000 new jobs added in the Carolina Core since 2018."
The so-called Carolina Core is a 120-plus mile stretch of central North Carolina from west of Winston-Salem to Fayetteville and is defined by economic leaders as an area "built by the assets that make the region a globally competitive market, including a talent pool of more than 2 million people, access to more than colleges and universities, four certified megasites, urban research parks and more.