York Township — Toyota Motor Corp. is investing nearly $50 million to construct a new battery laboratory at its North American research and developments headquarters outside of Ann Arbor.
The lab that is expected to open in 2025 will evaluate batteries for electrified vehicles in North America to meet the region’s requirements for performance, quality and durability. It marks another sign of Michigan’s continued strengths in the automotive sector and engineering even in the transition to EVs and after Toyota has had its campus in the state for more than 50 years.
“This new investment in our North American R&D operation, which has been a key pillar of the Michiganautomotive industry for more than 50 years,” Shinichi Yasui, executive vice president of Toyota Motor North America’s research and development, said in a statement, “shows Toyota’s directional shift towards electrification for all.”
The Toyota USA Foundation also announced a $10 million grant through its $110 million Driving Possibilities program to benefit Eastern Michigan University and Lincoln Consolidated and Ypsilanti Community Schools for classroom and hands-on education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
Toyota’s new battery lab will support operations of the Japanese automaker’s battery manufacturing site in North Carolina and at a plant in Kentucky where it will build a new three-row all-electric SUV. Over the last two years, the company has invested more than $8 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations.
Lab engineers will explore different battery configurations for future products. Additionally, employees will evaluate the use of Level 2 and Level 3 DC fast chargers and other power connections. The investment includes updating dynamometers at research and development campuses in York Township and Ann Arbor to evaluate full EVs. There could be opportunity for future expansion of the lab’s capabilities, too.
Toyota is working with DTE Energy Co. through its MIGreenPower program to power the facility with solar and wind energy. The Japanese automaker’s plans call for its Michigan operations to be run by 100% renewable energy in 2026.
Toyota says it offers 22 electrified vehicles in the United States across the Toyota and Lexus brand. Each of its models will have an option by 2025. Toyota expects to invest $70 billion in vehicle electrification by 2030.
“Today’s investment by Toyota demonstrates Michigan’s leadership in pioneering the future of mobility,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “The $50 million investment in a new laboratory facility to evaluate electricvehicle batteries will create high-skilled, good-paying jobs in Saline and support efforts to help electricvehicles run longer and go farther than ever before.
“Last week, I announced the Make It In Michigan plan, a strategy to compete for projects, invest in people, and revitalize places. Let’s continue working to grow Michigan’s economy, bring supply chains home, and lead the future of batteries and electric vehicles.”
Toyota’s announcement comes after General Motors Co. on Monday shared plans to invest $1 billion in two of its plants in Flint to prepare for production of next-generation heavy-duty trucks.
Most of Toyota’s grant in southeast Michigan for STEM education commits to creating for at least five years an institute led by EMU with both Ypsilanti Community and Lincoln Consolidated districts for elementary, middle and high school students. The University of Michigan College of Engineering and the Washtenaw Community College will serve as educational and subject matter experts, too.
The grant also supports a multi-year transportation research and mapping study with the Community Transportation Association of America focused on barriers for students, including the communities the institute will serve. Southeast Michigan is the first of 14 U.S. communities that Driving Possibilities will benefit.
“STEM education and programs like Driving Possibilities in Michigan are crucial for preparing our students for success in the rapidly evolving job market,” Alena Zachary-Ross, superintendent of Ypsilanti Community Schools, said in a statement. “By fostering skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, we are equipping our students with the tools to not only thrive but also drive innovation in their chosen fields.”