The Shimoyama engine plant and Myochi powertrain plant, located near Toyota’s global headquarters, will be converted to produce electric vehicle batteries. Battery production at both plants will be handled by Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, a battery joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic.
“We hope that the technology the company has developed in producing engines and other units and components can also be used in battery production, and establish a multi-powertrain production system to support a wider range of powertrain options,” a Toyota spokesman said.
Image credit: Toyota
Auto leaders from around the world have recently warned that the auto industry will lose many jobs in the transition to electric vehicles. Electric vehicles have far fewer parts, take less time to assemble and require fewer workers than conventional combustion engine vehicles. In addition, electric vehicles also rely more on technology industries outside the traditional auto industry.
For a long time, Toyota President Akio Toyoda has emphasized that while the auto industry is changing, it should also protect jobs. As chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Akio Toyoda often refers to the 5.5 million workers who form the backbone of the local auto industry from seven major Japanese automakers: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Suzuki.
The latest figures available show that as of 2011, Toyota’s Shimoyama plant, which makes engines and fuel tanks for fuel-cell vehicles, employed 1,700 people. The Mingzhi plant, which employs approximately 1,500 people, produces cast and machined powertrain and resin components.