TOKYO – Toyota is stepping up its transition from internal combustion engines to battery-powered cars by converting powertrain plants in Japan into battery production sites.
The overhauls are part of the $5.6 billion investment plan announced this week by the automaker.
The Shimoyama engine plant and the Myochi powertrain factory, both near Toyota’s global headquarters, will be upgraded to turn out batteries for electric vehicles.
Battery production at those sites will be handled through Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, a battery joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic.
“We would like to utilize the manufacturing technologies and skills we have developed in producing engines and other units and parts for battery production as well and establish a multi-powertrain production system to help provide a wide range of options,” a Toyota spokeswoman said.
The shift offers some insight into Toyota’s strategy for coping with industry upheaval as established automakers race to modernize in the new age of electrification.
The plant conversions suggest Toyota will use existing plants and workers and try to manage a controlled evolution.
Details of the plan emerge as automotive leaders around the world warn of looming job losses in the transition to electric vehicles. EVs have many fewer parts than traditional internal combustion vehicles and require fewer hours to assemble and fewer workers to build.
They also rely more heavily on technology industries outside the traditional auto world.