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Toyota & Stellantis Announce Not-So-Big Battery Factory Plans

Toyota and Stellantis announced US battery factory plans. One of them is somewhat important.

The headline screams,”Toyota Earmarks $3.4 Billion To Boost EV Battery Production In The US Through 2030!” Think that means Team Toyota is finally ready to join the EV revolution? Think again, ampere breath. According to Tech Crunch, only $1.3 billion of that total is earmarked for a US lithium-ion battery factory. It will be built in an undisclosed location and operated solely by Toyota and internal partner Toyota Tsusho.

It is scheduled to start production in 2025 and reach full capacity in 2031. Spread over the time period covered by the announcement, that amounts to $130 million a year. Big deal, Toyota. [yawn] The rest of the money will be devoted to battery research to develop the batteries of the future. By the time 2050 rolls around, Toyota intends to be ready! Yessiree, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

So, what kind of batteries can you manufacture in a $1.3 billion factory? Why, puny little 3 to 5 kWh batteries for all those “self charging” electric cars — aka hybrids — Toyota plans to sell until the seas close over Tokyo. This announcement is greenwashing at best and a deliberate falsehood at worst. The company crows that it will have “about 70” electrified models in its lineup by 2025, but only 15 of them will be battery electrics. That ratio is completely ass backwards if Toyota hopes to remain relevant.

No way is Akio Toyoda going to approve the kind of massive move to battery electric cars that Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, Stellantis, Hyundai, and even Honda are planning. He will sell his hybrids with 1990s technology until Hell freezes over. His mania for hybrids is reminiscent of the way the German auto industry embraced diesel technology — up until 2015. When Toyota collapses, the blame will be squarely on Toyoda’s shoulders.

Stellantis Steps Up

Contrast the Toyota announcement with the one from Stellantis this week. It says it will spend $11.4 billion to build two U.S. battery factories with partner LG Energy Solution. According to Car and Driver, the start of production is scheduled for early 2024. The batteries will be used in hybrid and electric vehicles built in North America. Stellantis has previously stated it intends to have 40 percent of its U.S. sales come from EVs by 2030 and has earmarked a total of $35 billion toward meeting that goal.

Once again, there is a troubling lack of clarity to this announcement. Stellantis has not specified what it means by “EVs.” The company is rolling out a number of plug-in hybrids, which at least have the ability to travel 25 to 30 miles on battery power alone. To date, pure battery electric vehicles are absent from the Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep lineup in the US, but the company says it will offer fully electric SUV models by 2025.

Of  the two announcements, the Stellantis news is the most heartening. While GM and Ford have been jockeying for position in the race to bring battery electric SUVs and trucks to market, Stellantis has been content to stay in the background, at least so far as its models for the North America market are concerned. Maybe Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep will still be around in 2030. Toyota? That’s less likely.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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