"It's time to localize," Bill Foy, senior vice president of engineering for Denso International America, told Automotive News. "You can imagine that we're working very closely with our customers here to satisfy their needs for upcoming programs. These are components that you don't want to ship around the world."
The move appears to particularly solve a looming need from Toyota Motor Corp., Denso's biggest customer and part owner, which plans to build a U.S. assembly plant to produce an unspecified EV model or models in conjunction with Mazda Motor Corp.
Toyota purchasing teams have been sizing up North American suppliers to establish a supply chain for EV manufacturing, Robert Young, Toyota Motor North America group vice president for purchasing, supplier engineering development and cost planning, said in August.
Denso officials said last week in Maryville that they will "expand multiple production lines to produce advanced safety, connectivity and electrification products for hybrid and electric vehicles." The components will be for Denso's entire North American customer base.
Foy declined to say which customer would receive those components first, but he said the expanded Tennessee plant will be up and running in 2019.
EVs are no longer a fringe piece of product planning for a few automakers. General Motors, another key Denso customer, said last week that it will introduce two new EV models in the next 18 months and have 20 electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in its lineup by 2023. Last month, Daimler said it will spend $1 billion in Vance, Ala., to construct an EV battery plant and put an electric model into production at its assembly plant there.