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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Toyota's plan to build a manufacturing plant in North Carolina for EV batteries is the latest move by auto giants, startups and suppliers to set up shop in conservative or swing-y states.

Driving the news: On Monday, the company said it's building a $1.3 billion plant in the Greensboro area to produce batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.

  • Toyota said it would create 1,750 jobs and begin operations in 2025 with the capacity to produce enough batteries for 800,000 vehicles per year, with plans for further growth later.
  • "North Carolina said the new plant will initially produce batteries for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles, and intends to produce batteries for EVs long term," Reuters reports. Axios' Rebecca Falconer has more.

Catch up fast: It wasn't the only N.C.-related move Monday. Separately, the EV startup Arrival announced an $11.5 million investment to assemble high-voltage battery modules in Charlotte.

Why it matters: They're among a suite of plans to build new battery or electric vehicle factories in red or purple states.

  • Ford is investing billions in battery and vehicle manufacturing in Tennessee and Kentucky.
  • The well-funded EV startup Rivian is reportedly eyeing Georgia for its second manufacturing plant (Texas has also been mentioned).
  • Tesla has built a new auto factory in the Austin, Texas, region and moved its corporate HQ there.
  • GM and battery giant LG Chem are building a new plant in Tennessee. SK Innovation, another battery firm, is building a plant in Georgia.
  • The startup Canoo is planning facilities in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
  • The luxury EV startup Lucid Motors has begun producing cars at its factory in Arizona.

What we're watching: Whether the industry's growing presence in conservative-leaning regions will boost political support for more aggressive federal EVs incentives, or transportation-focused climate policies more broadly.

  • "These announcements will ultimately short circuit the abstract ideological arguments and ground the clean-energy transition in material, local gains," Mark Muro, an expert in industrial transitions with the Brookings Institution, said via email.

The intrigue: One wrinkle in the placement of EV manufacturing is that Democrats' social and climate spending plan under negotiation provides much larger consumer incentives for union-built cars.

Go deeper ... IEA report: A stronger renewables forecast still falls short

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 13, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Battery startup QuantumScape's new move

Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar via Getty Images

The energy storage heavyweight Fluence and the solid-state battery startup QuantumScape Thursday morning announced a multiyear agreement to test and deploy QuantumScape lithium-metal tech in stationary applications.

Why it matters: Storage growth is important to enabling high levels of renewables penetration and also helps aid grid reliability. Solid-state battery tech holds the promise of higher energy density and other benefits.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 13, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Biden's climate runway is shortening

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

The Biden administration is expanding efforts to speed clean electricity expansion with its existing powers, but faces big obstacles to meeting its climate goals without far more help from Congress.

Why it matters: President Biden has set a goal of reaching 100% carbon-free power by 2035 and cutting economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions — that is, power, transport, industry, etc. — in half by 2030.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine mandate after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks announced in a memo to employees Tuesday that it has dropped plans to implement a vaccine mandate for all U.S. workers, AP reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.