The first vehicle battery manufacturing plant in the U.S. is headed to North Carolina. In late 2021, Toyota announced its intentions to build its Toyota Battery Manufacturing plant near Liberty, North Carolina, initially investing $1.2 billion in the facility, an amount that some analysts say could reach $3.5 Billion over time. So, why here and why now? What makes Liberty, North Carolina the ideal location for the carmaker’s first battery plant in the U.S.? Here are five reasons Toyota chose this site.
The Highway System
Logistically, Toyota required an extensive and well-maintained highway system in whichever city it eventually selected for its battery manufacturing plant. This is because these batteries would need to be trucked to airports and seaports for shipment to automobile manufacturers worldwide. The company couldn’t afford to have a poor highway system interfering with their shipping logistics.
Airports and Seaports
North Carolina is uniquely positioned to have access to both airports and seaports, making battery shipments easier and quicker. While most major cities have one international airport, North Carolina boasts four, all within a reasonable distance from the Liberty location. The two seaports in the state are something that few states can offer in addition to such a large number of international airports. These facilities made North Carolina a logical choice for shipping access.
Not only will Toyota have access to airports and seaports from their Liberty location, but it can also easily access rail transportation. The site chosen for the main manufacturing facility near Liberty has on-site rail, meaning the structure can be built to load and offload shipments directly from trains that are already running through the area. This is a unique offering that very few cities can provide, which gives North Carolina the advantage in transportation options.
Educated and Diverse Workforce
The recent influx of tech and biotech companies to North Carolina has led to an educated and diverse workforce that is highly desirable for large companies like Toyota. They will be able to fill the expected 1,750 initial jobs and any others that are created in the coming years. Having its pick of educated potential employees from the local workforce makes it more cost efficient to fill their vacancies.
North Carolina is dedicated to renewable energy, which is important for all car manufacturers, especially those like Toyota that are leaders in electric vehicles. North Carolina is fourth in the nation in solar power generation and third in the nation in installed solar generating capacity. In fact, in 2020, renewable sources were responsible for 16% of all electricity generated in North Carolina, a number that is increasing rapidly. Toyota is committed to using 100% renewable energies to produce the batteries at this plant, which made the state’s positive position on alternative energies a critical factor in their decision.
Toyota also cited the state’s world-class education system and the strong government partnerships at both the state and local levels as reasons they selected North Carolina for its battery manufacturing plant. It’s clear that large companies like Toyota find North Carolina attractive for numerous reasons, and more such companies can be expected to call the Tar Heel state home as the state continues to invest in its people and resources.