MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Japanese carmaker Toyota will invest $328 million more in a plant in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, it said on Thursday, as it looks to adapt its production processes for a new hybrid model of its Tacoma pickup truck.
“The new version of the ‘Mexican pickup’ will be hybrid electric, which means Guanajuato will now form part of the company’s electrification production strategy,” Toyota said in a statement.
The funds will help adapt manufacturing for the new Tacoma model for a North American market, it added.
Toyota has invested close to $1.2 billion in Guanajuato since it announced the plant, it added, saying the factory provides more than 2,500 jobs.
The announcement followed a visit from Guanajuato governor Diego Sinhue to Japan.
Carmakers worldwide are shifting production away from internal-combustion engines to more electric-powered vehicles as they seek to comply with the advent of more stringent emissions rules intended to curb the worsening impacts of climate change.
Although Mexico, a key car manufacturing hub, produces large numbers of electric vehicles, many are exported to countries such as the United States because they remain too costly and impractical for drivers in much of Mexico, which lacks a thorough network of charging stations.
Mexico has about 1,100 charging stations, mostly clustered in large cities, restricting long-distance EV drives. Hybrid vehicles, however, could be a step forward until there is more investment in EVs, according to industry analysts.
In March, Tesla said it would open a “gigafactory” in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, as the electric vehicle behemoth looks to expand its global output.
At last year’s COP27 climate summit, Mexico, the Americas’ third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, pledged 50% of its auto sales would be zero-emissions vehicles by 2030 and said it would ramp up its clean energy capacity.
(Reporting by Sarah Morland and Kylie Madry; Editing by Brendan O’Boyle and Gerry Doyle)