Toyota Motor North America is making two investments in Michigan: One is to build a new battery lab and the other funds a program that will give kids hands-on experience with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies for careers in the auto industry.
On Thursday, Toyota said it will invest $50 million to build a new laboratory at its North American Research & Development headquarters in York Township, about 15 miles south of Ann Arbor. Toyota will evaluate batteries for electric and electrified vehicles in North America at the new lab, expected to open in 2025.
The new Michigan Battery Lab will ensure that Toyota’s batteries meet performance, quality and durability requirements of automotive batteries made by Toyota, the automaker said in a news release.
“With increasing production for electrification coming to North America, it’s important to have localsupporting infrastructure, but more importantly it enables us to invest in team members and technologydevelopment,” said Jordan Choby, group vice president of powertrain at TMNA R&D. “This new facilityalso enables us to experiment and pursue new opportunities as technology and business needs advance.”
Toyota team gets new skills
The lab will also provide battery testing services to suppliers who produce batteries for Toyota vehicles in North America. But don’t look for a boost in the workforce.
“Toyota does not expect to make any additional hires and is instead planning to use existing team members in the new lab,” Olivia Boisineau, Toyota spokeswoman, told the Detroit Free Press. “We will provide new skills training where necessary to help them make the transition.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement the investment demonstrates Michigan’s leadership “in pioneering the future of mobility.”
“The $50 million investment in a new laboratory facility to evaluate electric vehicle batteries will create high-skilled, good-paying jobs … and support efforts to help electric vehicles run longer and go farther than ever before,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Last week, I announced the Make It In Michigan plan, a strategy to compete for projects, invest in people, and revitalize places. Let’s continue working to grow Michigan’s economy, bring supply chains home, and lead the future of batteries and electric vehicles.”
Driving Michigan kids into auto jobs
Also, the Toyota USA Foundation is providing nearly $10 million in a five-year, phased approach for Eastern Michigan University and Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) to administer for the expansion of hands-on STEM learning for Ypsilanti and Lincoln schools, both part of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. The CTAA is a group “dedicated to ensuring that all Americans, regardless of age, ability, geography or income, have access to safe, affordable and reliable transportation,” according to www.ctaa.org.
The funds are part of a $110 million initiative dedicated to Toyota’s Driving Possibilities, which Toyota launched last year.
“Our goal is to increase awareness of future STEM careers while helping build sustainable programs in the communities where our Toyota team members live and work,” Tellis Bethel, Toyota’s group vicepresident of social innovation, said in a statement.
Driving Possibilities is a collaboration with pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools, nonprofits and the community to increase STEM awareness and help students succeed in school and future careers. It also addresses the “essential needs of students and families.”
The initiative is funded by Toyota USA Foundation, Toyota Motor North America, and Toyota Financial Services.
“Toyota’s nearly $10 million partnership over five years with Washtenaw ISD and EMU to establish a community focused STEM institute will help more skilled workers Make It In Michigan and prepare our current workforce and future STEM leaders for the high-skilled, good-paying jobs we are creating in communities across our state,” Whitmer said.
To learn more about Toyota’s $110 million dollar commitment to Driving Possibilities, go to ToyotaEffect.com.
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