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$115M project for WV Toyota plant to start in 2020


The Herald-Dispatch

BUFFALO, W.Va. —Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia will be making a $115.3 million investment to produce the company’s first American-made hybrid transaxles at its Buffalo facility, company leaders announced Tuesday morning.

Leah Curry announced Toyota’s first American-made hybrid transaxles, which will be produced at Toyota’s engine and transmission plant in Buffalo, W.Va. on Tuesday.
(Herald-Dispatch photo by Fred Pace)

“Hybrid technology is the pathway to the next generation of vehicles and hybrid technology is essential to the future of Toyota,” said Leah Curry, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia. “Producing these new transaxles in West Virginia solidifies our plant’s role in producing the next generation engines and transmissions that will drive the future of mobility.”

Production of the transaxles is scheduled to begin at the Putnam County engine and transmission plant in 2020.

Curry explained that in hybrid vehicles the transaxle takes the place of a conventional transmission.

“The hybrid transaxle allows the vehicle to shift from electric to internal combustion power and enables the vehicle to generate electricity through regenerative braking,” she said. “It includes a motor, generator and power split device.”

The West Virginia-made hybrid transaxle at the Buffalo plant will be used in Highlander hybrid SUVs that are built at Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Princeton, Indiana.

“We have been updating existing product lines, we’ve been bringing in new production lines and increasing our technology here,” Curry said. “We continue to look for ways to make this region economically profitable, so that generations to come can have good jobs here at Toyota West Virginia.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice commended the company for its role in the state’s economy.

“They have spent $1.6 billion in our state and have created 1,600 jobs,” Justice said. “Of those jobs, 90 percent of those jobs are West Virginians.”

Justice also applauded Toyota’s contributions to communities in the state.

“This company has given in excess of $8 million of donations giving back to local communities,” he said.

Huntington Area Chamber of Commerce President Bill Bissett said Toyota’s continued investment in West Virginia and its people should be a source of pride for everyone in the state.

“It’s also great to see this major employer support the state’s upcoming road bond as a great way to make our roads safer and jumpstart our state’s economy,” Bissett said.

Woody Thrasher, West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary, also spoke at the event.

“This is a perfect example of the governor’s commitment to support our state’s businesses,” he said.

“I had the opportunity to go to Japan this past spring and visit Toyota’s headquarters and I was so incredibly impressed. It very much reflects the commitment this state has made to this company and others.”

“West Virginia has a long and productive relationship with Toyota, and this announcement further solidifies the company’s commitment to investing in our state and our workers,” said U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. “This is great news for West Virginia, and it will help continue to fuel economic growth and provide good-paying jobs for hardworking West Virginians.”

Curry said the plant’s workforce of more than 1,600 team members build more than 1 million engines and transmissions in a single year.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he was “thrilled” at Tuesday’s news.

“Since Toyota established its plant in Buffalo in 1996, we have shared a close partnership with the company. More than 1,600 West Virginians make their living at this plant and its roots in that community are strong,” he said.

“Toyota has known for more than 30 years that West Virginia is a good place to do business and that West Virginians are the hardest working people in the country.”

Although there will be no net gain of jobs due to this investment, Curry said it will help ensure the stability of the plant’s employment levels in the future.

Toyota also announced Tuesday an additional $258.5 million in funding at four other U.S. manufacturing plants in Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama.

Curry said these projects, and others previously announced, move Toyota nearly halfway toward its commitment to invest $10 billion in the U.S., as announced by CEO Akio Toyoda in January.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at and via Twitter at @FredPaceHD.

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