Toyota today underlined its faith in Britain as a manufacturing base by investing £50 million in its Burnaston factory, in Derbyshire, where production capacity will be increased from 220,000 to 285,000 cars a year.
The world's second largest vehicle maker brought forward additional funding to meet burgeoning demand, which has earned Toyota a record 5.7% of the European car market during the first four months of this year. It had originally planned to ramp up annual output at its UK facility to 270,000 units. Toyota has recorded seven consecutive record sales years in Europe.
The UK-built Avensis and Corolla underpinned these results, that also contributed to a UK market share approaching 5% during the same period.
Toyota's latest investment brings its commitment to the UK to £1.75 billion since the Burnaston plant, where 1.5 million cars have been built to date, became the company's first European outpost in 1992,. A total of 1.5m engines have also been produced at its factory in Deeside, Wales.
As part of the expansion programme Toyota is recruiting 1,000 new staff, which should bring the corporation's UK industrial headcount up to 4,600 staff by the end of this year.
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair MP, welcomed the inward investment, which he said: "affirms Toyota's commitment to manufacturing in the UK as a central location within Europe. This is good news, not just for the company but also for the UK automotive industry, as it gears up for the challenges of developing new and cleaner vehicle technologies of which Toyota is at the forefront."
Also endorsing the decision, Bryan Jackson, Toyota Manufacturing UK's managing director, said it acknowledged: "the commitment and dedication of our members to building superior quality cars and reflects the importance of the UK to Toyota's European growth."
The Tory shadow transport secretary, Damien Green MP, expressed delight at the decision, which he said was: "an encouraging sign of the continual growth in UK car manufacturing."The MP for Ashford in Kent added: " If you considered the state of manufacturing 25 years ago it would have been easy to imagine that today there would be no cars manufactured in the UK."
The investment will accelerate introduction of state-of-the-art body assembly line technology and painting robots as part of maintaining the existing two-shift production process.
Burnaston's status and quality levels within Toyota's global industrial organisation are underlined by the Avensis being exported to Japan at a monthly rate of 2,000 cars.
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