ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Toyota Motor Corp., a late convert to the electric-vehicle movement, is sizing up North American sourcing for components such as power packs, motors and inverters in anticipation of a plunge into electrified vehicle production.
Toyota's North American purchasing arm began assessing the local supply chain more than a year ago as part of the company's decision to set up an in-house division dedicated to developing EVs, said Robert Young, Toyota Motor North America group vice president for purchasing, supplier engineering development and cost planning.
Japan's biggest automaker is laying the groundwork for an expected ramp-up in electrified vehicles to meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations worldwide. Although Toyota is known for its extensive hybrid vehicle lineup in the United States, the carmaker still lacks the volume to warrant making batteries, motors or transaxles here.
But that will soon change, Young said, as demand picks up for EVs and hybrids.
"If you look over the next decade, it's highly likely we will surpass that tipping point," Young said this month in an interview at Toyota's North American r&d center here. "We look out to the future — either pure EV vehicles and/or EV-related components — we know we're going to have to have the capability to build those here."
Toyota long maintained skepticism about EVs in favor of the hybrid technology pioneered by its flagship Prius, as well as the potential for hydrogen fuel cells. But the automaker finally joined the EV race late last year when President Akio Toyoda put himself in charge of a new EV Business Planning Department.
The "in-house venture company" is run by four people, including Toyoda. The others come from Toyota Group suppliers Aisin Seiki Co., Denso Corp. and Toyota Industries Corp.