Toyota Motor North America Inc. took the next step toward its planned $1.29 billion electric vehicle battery plant with its announcement Tuesday of members of its local management team.
In December, the Toyota subsidiary selected the Greensboro-Randolph megasite for a manufacturing plant that is expected to have 1,750 employees when production begins in 2025.
Toyota Battery Manufacturing NC’s plans are to build lithium-ion batteries for about 200,000 hybrid and electric vehicles a year in what could be the biggest capital investment in state history.
The four managers come from Toyota facilities in the United States.
Sean Suggs was selected as president with responsibilities for all manufacturing and administration functions at the Liberty plant.
Suggs, a 24-year Toyota veteran, held a similar role at a Toyota plant in Mississippi and most recently served as group vice president and director of social innovation for Toyota Motor North America.
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Don Stewart has been named vice president of plant manufacturing, which includes responsibilities as the plant’s senior operations manager.
Stewart, a 25-year Toyota veteran, most recently served as vice president of production engineering for Toyota Motor North America, overseeing the powertrain division.
April Mason will serve as general manager of factory services with oversight of local production control, facilities and business planning, as well as coordination with various regional functional teams related to Toyota’s battery business. .
Mason, a 28-year Toyota veteran, most recently served as chief administrative officer of Toyota Alabama.
Emily Wilemon-Holland will be the factory’s corporate communications manager in the triad, as well as local government relations and the Toyota Racing Development campus in Salisbury. She recently held the same position for Toyota’s Mississippi facilities.
Site preparation is underway at the plant site.
Toyota said the Liberty plant will debut with four production lines.
Wilemon-Holland said the additional hiring for the Triad plant is focused on administrative and engineering roles at the plant.
“Typically at Toyota we hire based on factory technology, but across the company we hire across disciplines,” she said.
“We are aiming for 2023 to start hiring maintenance and production employees.”
A second phase could involve 3,875 additional jobs and an additional $3 billion in capital investment.
With two additional production lines, the plant could produce enough batteries for up to 1.2 million vehicles per year.
Toyota described the mega-site as a “plug-and-play site featuring the ideal combination of strategic location, world-class workforce and unparalleled transportation infrastructure.”
Chris Reynolds, executive vice president of corporate resources for Toyota Motor North America, cited “North Carolina’s extensive and well-maintained infrastructure, four international airports and two seaports, its consistent ranking among the best states for doing business, its world-class education system and, above all, its exceptional and diverse workforce.
The state’s main advantage is its lithium sector, including the world’s largest supplier of lithium to the electric vehicle battery industry, the largest known hard rock lithium deposit in the United States, and the strongest concentration of advanced lithium processing experts outside of China.
These elements, Toyota said, make North Carolina “the perfect place for companies to enter and operate in the electric vehicle ecosystem.”
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