Kurt Verlin
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$226 Million Investment Finally Pays Off at Toyota West Virginia

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Toyota West Virginia employees with first transaxle
Photo: Toyota

In late 2017, Toyota announced it was investing $113 million in Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia to produce 120,000 hybrid transaxles per year. In early 2019, that capacity was doubled and so was the investment, to nearly $226 million. Finally, the first of these hundreds of thousands of transaxles has been made.

“Our team has been planning for this new production line for several years, from construction to pilot projects to hiring new employees and countless hours of training,” said Srini Matam, TMMWV president. “Our team members’ dedication to the work they do every day is what makes our products world-class, and we are grateful for the continued support of our parent company.”

Related: Toyota SUV lineup

The hybrid transaxles are being built for the Toyota Sienna minivan and Toyota Highlander SUV, both of which are sold in gasoline-only and hybrid variants. In these vehicles, they serve a very specific function: to change whether power comes from the internal combustion engine or from the electric motor, depending on driving conditions. Being able to seamlessly switch from one to the other is the key to achieving better performance and fuel economy.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia was first established on Sept. 18, 1996, when the automaker and American officials planted 10 Japanese maple trees during a ceremony in Buffalo. It opened in 1998 with about 300 employees. Today, it employs more than 1,400 and represents more than $1.5 billion in investments.

Of the many Toyota manufacturing plants sprinkled around North America, TMMWV is one of the few that doesn’t make any vehicles. Instead, it exclusively produces powertrain parts, and recently celebrated the production of its 10 millionth unit. These parts include four-cylinder engines for the Corolla, V6 engines for the Highlander and Sienna, and automatic transmissions for the Avalon, Camry, Highlander, RAV4, and Sienna.

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As part of the $226 million investment, TMMWV added new equipment and a 72,000 square-foot building expansion to prepare for the production of those 240,000 yearly transaxles.

“We are proud to add such a significant investment to Toyota West Virginia,” Matam said. “Expanding West Virginia’s production capabilities to hybrid technology solidifies our facility’s role in producing next-generation engines and transmissions that will drive the future of Toyota’s advanced mobility technology.”