BUFFALO — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin made it clear on Thursday that he would not support tax relief for electric vehicles under the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better social spending bill that would stymie development projects. Toyota’s expansion at the Putnam County plant.
Manchin, DW.Va., was on hand Thursday morning for a Veterans Day ceremony at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia plant in Buffalo, where $225,000 was donated to groups serving veterans and their families.
At Thursday’s event, Ted Ogawa, president and CEO of Toyota Motor North America, announced that Toyota would invest $240 million in the West Virginia plant to add a dedicated production line for gearboxes- bridges for electric hybrid vehicles.
“This investment will provide new equipment and operational upgrades to move the facility forward,” Ogawa said. “This investment includes our trust and faith in all of you.”
Hybrid vehicles combine both gasoline combustion engines and a battery-powered electric vehicle motor. Hybrid transaxles help transfer power between the engines and the wheels depending on the driving environment. The $240 million investment does not involve any new jobs, but the expansion will involve training nearly 2,000 factory workers and giving them new skills.
“It’s the next generation of electrification”, said Srini Matam, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia. “We already manufacture electric motors here. We put them in our hybrid transaxle with all the quality and safety we get. We have more business, so we’re going to make 20,000 more parts a month with these engines and transaxles. So it’s a good time for our company.
Toyota’s West Virginia plant celebrates 25 years in the state this year, with Toyota investing more than $2 billion in West Virginia during this time. The Buffalo plant became the first Toyota plant in the United States to manufacture hybrid transaxles in 2017. Further expansion may come later in the decade.
However, Ogawa said further expansion could be hampered if a tax break envisioned as part of the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better is successful.
The Build Back Better plan, still being negotiated in the U.S. House of Representatives and up for a vote on Monday, includes a $7,500 tax credit for consumers who buy an electric vehicle. An additional tax credit of $4,500 would go to consumers who purchase an American-made electric vehicle built by the union. Ogawa said the additional tax credit hurts non-domestic automakers, such as Toyota.
“To be successful, we must have the opportunity to compete on equal footing with all automakers,” Ogawa said. “Even a chance, without any additional inconvenience on the backs of our team members, we are confident that you will help build automobiles that customers will choose in an open market.”
“There are laws going on that are really unfair right now,” Manchin said during his remarks on Thursday. “If I were to support something like this and come up to you and say something like this ‘hey, sorry to tell you this, but we’re going to give an extra $4,500 to vehicles made by union shops…and your taxes are going to pay your competitors to take your business away from you? “It’s so unfair and unfair.”
Manchin, speaking to the press after the ceremony, said he would do everything in his power to ensure that the Kildee/Stabenow layout – named after Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee and US senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. — would not succeed once he got to the U.S. Senate.
“All we’re asking for is fairness, and we’ll make sure to correct some misdirection, if you will, no matter what happens on the next bill,” Manchin said. “When I heard about this, what they were putting in the bill, I went straight to (Stabenow) and said it was wrong. It can’t happen. It’s not who we are as a country. That’s not how we built this country. And the product should speak for itself. We should not be using taxpayers’ money to pick winners and losers.
Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., said she would propose three amendments to the Build Back Better framework once it returns to the Senate, including an amendment to remove credit pro-union tax for electric vehicles. . Both Manchin and Capito criticized the Build Back Better framework, which includes social spending projects.
Manchin presented flags waving above the United States Capitol to Toyota executives and representatives of the West Virginia Gold Star Mothers, the Woody Williams Foundation and Fisher House. The three groups received $75,000 each from Toyota West Virginia.
“This state has always led the percentage of men and women who have served in the military compared to most other states. I am so proud of them,” Manchin said. “I marvel at the courage of the people and the willingness to sacrifice for all of us. We owe a great debt to all of our veterans who have served our country.”
Gold Star Mothers is a group representing mothers whose children have died in the armed forces. The Woody Williams Foundation, named in honor of Hershel, a native of West Virginia and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor “Wooded” Williams, educates Gold Star families and builds memorials in their honor. The Fisher House Foundation provides housing for families of veterans admitted to VA medical centers. The West Virginia Fisherman’s House is located near the Hershel “Wooded” Williams VA Medical Center in Huntington.