Nov 15 2021
The State Journal
BUFFALO — Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia on Thursday announced a new investment of $240 million into a new production line for its facility in Putnam County.
The new line will be a dedicated production line for hybrid transaxles. The investment also will provide new equipment and operational upgrades to modernize the facility, according to a release from the company.
One result of the new line: It will allow TMMWV team members to diversify their skill set and play a larger role in Toyota’s future of producing electric vehicles in North America, according to the release.
“Toyota West Virginia is preparing for future market needs as demand increases in the area of vehicle electrification,” said Srini Matam, president of TMMWV. “The investment will fund targeted improvements that will increase our flexibility and competitiveness, allowing us to be in a better position to directly respond to shifting customer demand for higher efficiency vehicles.”
In hybrid vehicles, which utilize both a combustion engine and an electric motor, the transaxle serves to transfer power seamlessly between the engine, electric motor and wheels in any number of combinations within hybrid vehicles.
Investments like this and others which advance production of electrified vehicles and their components help Toyota to achieve its goals for carbon neutrality. The company has committed to offering an electrified option across its entire lineup of both Toyota and Lexus vehicles by 2025, according to the release.
Toyota’s West Virginia team has and continues to play an active and important role in Toyota’s manufacturing operations in the U.S. through a series of expansions and updates since it was established, according to the release.
“This project is more than just a new product. It demonstrates the need for TMMWV and our path forward as we increase our powertrain capabilities to better support Toyota Motor North America’s growing manufacturing footprint by building vehicles where we sell,” Matam said.
In addition to the new investment, TMMWV also celebrated Veterans Day Thursday with an event recognizing veterans employed at the plant and by making three donations to local veterans’ support groups.
The company donated $75,000 each to Gold Star Mothers of West Virginia; The Fisher House at the Hershel Woody Williams VA Medical Center in Huntington; and The Woody Williams Foundation.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was in attendance for the ceremonies and praised both the donations and the company’s commitment to veterans.
“Every year on Veterans Day, I’m honored to pay tribute to our veterans who gave so much to protect our nation and to our Gold Star families,” Manchin said. “Our brave veterans are the glue that holds our nation, our state and our communities together. Their service and sacrifices will never be forgotten.
“Toyota Manufacturing West Virginia has been a strong partner for 25 years, and their commitment to employing our veterans when they return home and investing in veterans’ organizations through generous donations shows their dedication to the Mountain State and our people.”
“Today’s special commemoration shows that Americans and West Virginians love our Veterans and those who have sacrificed for our great country. May God continue to bless our great state and all those who fought to keep our nation free.”
The $240 million investment drew praise from Gov. Jim Justice, who touted the partnership Toyota and the state have had since the Buffalo plant’s opening.
“Toyota has long been an outstanding corporate partner and engine for economic growth in our state,” Justice said. “I’m proud knowing that it’ll be West Virginians helping lead the way as Toyota continues to invest in future technologies and products that’ll help get our friends and neighbors to their destinations more efficiently and safer than ever before.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also expressed her excitement and said she looks forward to seeing Toyota continue to thrive in West Virginia.
“Toyota’s presence in West Virginia represents more than just good jobs. It’s also a company that has committed to improving our economy and investing in our workforce for more than two decades,” Capito said. “I’m thrilled that the Buffalo plant is making this meaningful investment, which demonstrates the company’s ability to continue incorporating additional technologies that will advance their production.
“West Virginia has a long and productive relationship with Toyota, and this announcement today further solidifies their commitment to investing in our state and our workers.”
Thursday’s announcement comes less than a year after the company committed a $210 million investment to upgrade existing engine production and add 100 new jobs to increase assembly capacity of its four-cylinder engine line at the West Virginia plant.
It also follows the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the plant’s groundbreaking in 1996.
The plant produces about 1 million engines and transmissions annually and employs around 2,000 workers. It has seen about a dozen expansions and major new investments in the past 25 years.