YOICHIRO HIROI, Nikkei staff writer
TOKYO — Hitachi will build a $70 million plant in the U.S. that makes subway cars for the transit system in the Washington, D.C., region, the Japanese industrial group said Monday.
The planned factory in the state of Maryland will be Hitachi’s second U.S. rail car facility, with the other in Miami. Construction begins this fall, with the plant slated to become operational by March 2024.
Hitachi won a $2.2 billion order from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority last year to build up to 800 rail cars, with deliveries beginning in 2024. The deal is the company’s biggest in the U.S.
The factory looks to have 460 employees and the capacity to produce 20 cars monthly. The production complex will cover roughly 28,000 sq. meters, complete with a 730-meter test track.
The new lightweight rail cars will be more energy efficient, with better regenerative braking — which recovers electricity from the energy generated by the brakes — than carriages currently in service in Washington. The ventilation system will be upgraded as well.
The train cars also will carry digital information screens for riders along with onboard Wi-Fi service.
Hitachi Rail, the subsidiary building the plant, is headquartered in London. Europe accounts for half of the 547.7 billion yen ($4.6 billion) in revenue earned by the group’s rail business during the previous fiscal year.
Japan generates another 20% of the rail revenue while the U.S. contributes 10%. Hitachi is building the new U.S. production site to avoid tilting its operational infrastructure too heavily toward any region.