Toyota confirms second 3-row electric SUV for US production

Toyota announced on Thursday that it plans to build a new three-row battery-electric SUV in Princeton, Indiana, with a corresponding $1.4 billion investment in the plant. 

The company emphasizes that this announcement comes in addition to the recent $1.3 billion investment in the automaker’s Kentucky plant, to build a separate three-row battery-electric SUV, starting in 2025. 

In other words, yes, Toyota will have two different three-row electric SUVs. A report from earlier this month pegged one of those EVs as a fully electric Toyota Highlander EV—with a potential Lexus TZ sibling. A Thursday report from Automotive News suggests that with this vehicle due for Indiana in 2026, the Kentucky plant’s EV due for production in 2025 might be a Toyota bZ5X. 

2023 Toyota bZ4X Limited AWD

Reports have suggested that Toyota is having second thoughts about the bZ nomenclature for EVs, and as such it’s unclear which of these two SUVs—the Highlander EV or bZ5X—would be the more premium one, or how they might coexist. 

The best hint of the latter vehicle came in May 2023, when Toyota said that its 2026 EVs would be built on three different platforms—a software platform, an electronic platform, and a body and chassis platform. Toyota also said then that it was completely rethinking the manufacturing process for EVs. So it’s possible the Kentucky EV could represent all of these advancements while, as Automotive News points out—seemingly agreeing with this alignment—the Indiana EV will be a “chassis-based” one sharing components with gasoline models. 

Toyota Land Cruiser Se concept

Toyota Land Cruiser Se concept

Toyota Land Cruiser Se concept

So the big Land Cruiser Se concept shown at Tokyo in October 2023 might be pushed toward Kentucky production, with a somewhat smaller Highlander EV to follow in Indiana. 

In May 2023, Toyota said that it planned to launch 10 new EVs, ranging from luxury vehicles to compact cars and commercial vehicles, “mainly in the United States and China,” by 2026. That would help Toyota reach what it called a 1.5-million-EV “baseline” in 2026. 

With Thursday’s announcement, the automaker will also add a new battery pack assembly to its $13.9 billion battery facility in North Carolina, due to start production in 2025 for a range of electrified vehicles. According to Toyota, the Indiana EV announcement itself adds up to “340 new, sustainable U.S. jobs.”

2024 Lexus TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid

As Toyota points out, the Indiana plant already employs 7,500 workers and makes the Toyota Sienna hybrid minivan, Toyota Highlander and Grand Highlander SUVs, which are offered in hybrid and non-hybrid versions. It also makes the Lexus TX, which is offered in standard, hybrid, and TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid variants.