Toyota had already confirmed it would build a new, three-row electric SUV in the US – and now it has announced it’s building another.

    The Japanese giant is investing an additional US$1.4 billion (A$2.16bn) in its Princeton, Indiana plant, which will build the new, unspecified three-row electric SUV (which it says is a different vehicle to the one it had previously announced).

    The plant will also receive a battery pack assembly line that will use lithium-ion batteries from the US$13.9 billion (A$21.48bn) Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina plant set to start production in 2025.

    The Indiana plant currently produces the Highlander, known here as the Kluger, as well as the related Toyota Grand Highlander and Lexus TX crossovers plus the Toyota Sienna people mover.

    Toyota announced in February it was investing US$1.3 billion (A$2bn) in its Georgetown, Kentucky plant, which currently manufactures the Camry, to produce a new three-row electric SUV.

    This plant will also use batteries sourced from the North Carolina facility.

    Toyota says since 2021 it has announced new investments totalling US$18.6 billion (A$28.75bn) into electrification efforts across its US manufacturing operations.

    The company has neither said when these two separate three-row SUVs will be introduced, nor what they will be called.

    Automotive News reports the Kentucky-built vehicle will enter production in 2026 and be called the bZ5X.

    According to Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana president Tim Hollander, it won’t feature skateboard-style construction like many EVs, where the battery pack becomes a structural element of the body.

    That points to it potentially being an electric version of an existing combustion-powered vehicle. Given the Grand Highlander was only launched in 2023 (along with the closely related Lexus TX), it shapes as the most likely candidate for electric power.

    Another recent report from CarBuzz suggested one of the upcoming SUVs will replace the current Kluger/Highlander, though this is still a huge seller for the brand.

    In the US it was the seventh best-selling vehicle in its popular segment last year, while here it was the fifth best-selling vehicle in the large SUV segment.

    Last year, Toyota revealed a three-row electric SUV concept called the LandCruiser Se.

    This measures 5150mm long, 1990mm wide and 1705mm tall and rides a 3050mm wheelbase.

    Unlike other LandCruiser models, this features a unibody – instead of body-on-frame – architecture, which points to a more road-going focus than more rugged ‘Cruisers like the Prado.

    Back in 2021, a separate large SUV was among a raft of electric concepts previewed by the brand, which also included a seemingly closely related Lexus version.

    While Toyota is expanding its bZ line of electric vehicles, only one – the bZ4X – is a global model.

    The bZ3 sedan, as well as the bZ3X and bZ3C crossovers recently revealed at the Beijing motor show, are expected to remain exclusive to China.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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