BUFFALO, W.Va. — Toyota Motor Manufacturing’s plant in West Virginia is in line for a $115.3 million investment to produce the company’s first American-made hybrid transaxles. Production is to begin in 2020.

The company, along with Gov. Jim Justice and state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, made the announcement this morning in Putnam County.

Thrasher, talking to reporters after the Toyota announcement was made, said this was the first of consecutive announcements about the automotive industry in West Virginia. Calling this “Automotive Week,” he said another announcement would be made Wednesday about another company, although he provided no further details.

For Toyota, the investment that was announced today doesn’t necessarily mean the addition of more jobs, but company leaders described the move as a vote of confidence and assurance that the company will continue to keep up with buyers’ preferences and the latest technology.

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

In hybrid vehicles, the transaxle takes the place of conventional transmission. It includes a motor, generator and power split device. The hybrid transaxle allows the vehicle to shift from electric to internal combustion power, or a combination of both. It enables the vehicle to generate electricity through regenerative braking.

The West Virginia-made hybrid transaxles will be used in Highlander Hybrids that are built at Toyota’s Princeton, Ind., manufacturing plant.

Including this announcement, Toyota has invested more than $1.4 billion at the company’s plant in Buffalo and has donated $5.3 million to community partners in the region since 1996.

Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito each issued statements praising Toyota’s news.

““I am thrilled that Toyota has announced it will invest an additional $115 million in its Buffalo plant. Since Toyota established its plant in Buffalo in 1996, we have shared a close partnership with the company,” Manchin stated.

Capito stated, “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. I’m excited that Toyota is continuing to be a leader in hybrid technology, and I’m thrilled they have chosen West Virginia to be home to this groundbreaking expansion.”

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