HOUSTON - Toshiba Corp. announced plans to expand manufacturing capacity at its plant in Houston, Texas, for production of high-performance drive motors for hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles. 

The production will be Toshiba's first overseas manufacturing base for automotive propulsion motors that are currently produced in Mie Prefecture, Japan. The decision follows the awarding of a major contract to supply drive motors for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles for Ford Motor Co. 

"Toshiba recognizes the importance of localizing production within North America to ensure long-term growth and make a commitment to the North American market," said Shinichiro Akiba, president of Toshiba International Corp., a Houston-based Toshiba Group company that manufactures and markets motors and industrial equipment, and the base for this expansion program. 

"We welcome Toshiba's decision to locate this new production in the United States," said Sherif Marakby, director of electrification programs and engineering for Ford Motor Co. "This key technology will help build U.S. capacity and supply of components to further enable vehicle electrification in the North American market." 

Toshiba will begin construction for the expanded capacity in January 2011 in Houston on the site of Toshiba International Corp. Production of the automotive motors would begin in 2012. 

As the automotive industry moves toward a new generation of environmentally friendly vehicles, Toshiba is promoting advances in essential automotive technologies -- from dedicated on-board control systems to batteries and intelligent traffic systems. The company's development of key components for hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles -- including inverters and drive motors -- is an essential part of Toshiba's strategy in growing this promising business, the company said. 

The Houston location will allow Toshiba to increase its marketing of automotive systems and components in the United States, establish closer contact and collaboration with automobile manufacturers, and allow auto companies to increase local procurement of key components, Toshiba added.