Toyota will reportedly begin production of an electric SUV in the US by mid-decade in an attempt to make up lost ground in transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Toyota has been slow to embrace the shifting customer sentiment towards EVs, instead insisting on developing hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technology.
According to a report from Nikkei Asia the Japanese automaker will build a mid to large sized SUV at their existing manufacturing plant in Kentucky as soon as 2025, a plant which will need time to be converted to be able to produce EVs.
Toyota aims to ramp production through the year and is reportedly aiming to produce up to 10,000 units per month by the end of 2025, with an eventual goal of producing 1 million EVs by 2026, according to Nikkei.
It appears the main driver behind Toyota’s plan is the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provides automakers with substantial incentives if their EVs, and their batteries, are made in the US. To satisfy the second part of that equation Toyota will reportedly use batteries made at their $1.3 billion plant in North Carolina announced in 2021, allowing the electric SUVs to qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit.
News that Toyota is considering building electric SUVs in the US comes just a few weeks after it was announced that CEO Akio Toyoda was stepping down from his role on April 1. Toyoda’s replacement, Koji Sato, who currently heads the Lexus and Gazoo Racing divisions, has apparently sparked a greater interest in EVs, which he says will first come from their luxury brand Lexus.