Denso to invest $1 billion in Tennessee plant, create 1,000 jobs

DETROIT (Reuters) - Japanese auto parts supplier Denso Corp 6902.T plans to invest $1 billion in its Maryville, Tennessee plant to develop vehicle electrification and safety systems, creating around 1,000 jobs.

This is the latest in a series of announcements from automakers rushing to bring a large number of electric vehicle models to market in the coming years.

Policymakers in key markets such as China are pushing a shift to electric cars from internal combustion engines over the next two to three decades, while relatively new rival Tesla Inc TSLA.O is gaining momentum, pressuring traditional automakers to crank up plans for fully electric vehicles.

Denso said in a statement the investment would expand multiple production lines at the facility to produce advanced safety, connectivity and electrification products for hybrid and electric vehicles. The new jobs will include production workers, technicians and engineers.

“We are seeing dramatic shifts in the role of transportation in society, and this investment will help position us to meet those changing demands,” Kenichiro Ito, chairman of Denso’s North American board, said in a statement.

In 2015 the auto supplier announced a $400 million investment in Maryville and the creation of 500 jobs.

Last week, Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T announced a joint venture with partner Mazda Motor Corp 7261.T to develop electric vehicle technology. Toyota will take a 90 percent stake in the joint venture while Mazda and Denso, Toyota's biggest supplier, will each take 5 percent.

No. 1 U.S. automaker General Motors Co GM.N said this week it would add 20 new battery electric and fuel cell vehicles to its global lineup by 2023.

A day later, Ford Motor Co F.N said it planned to slash $14 billion in costs over the next five years and shift capital investment away from sedans and internal combustion engines to develop more trucks and electric and hybrid cars.

Editing by Susan Thomas