Toyota has signalled it is committed to manufacturing in Britain after announcing today it is plugging £240m into its UK operations in a bid to improve its Burnaston plant's competitiveness.
The Japanese car firm said the investment into its plant near Derby will enable production of vehicles using its new global manufacturing system and promote UK supply chain efficiencies.
Dr Johan van Zyl, president and chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe, said:
We are very focused on securing the global competitiveness of our European plants.
The government is also providing £21.3m in funding for training, research and development, and improvements of the plant's environmental performance.
"Our investment demonstrates that, as a company, we are doing all we can to raise the competitiveness of our Burnaston plant in Derbyshire," van Zyl said. "Continued tariff-and-barrier free market access between the UK and Europe that is predictable and uncomplicated will be vital for future success".
The announcement was welcomed by the government, with business secretary Greg Clark calling it "a further boost to the UK auto sector".
“Toyota is one of the world’s largest car producers and this inward investment underlines the company’s faith in its employees and will help ensure the plant is well positioned for future Toyota models to be made in the UK," Clark said.
Toyota has been making cars in the UK since 1992 and last year created around 180,000, which most exported to the EU and elsewhere in the world. It employs around 3,400 workers at the Burnaston plant and its Deeside engine plant in Wales.
The decision is another vote of confidence in the UK's car industry after Nissan committed to making new models at its Sunderland plant following Brexit uncertainty, after being offered assurances by the UK government.
The UK car industry has warned that losing access to the Single Market and customs union will be a huge blow to its competitiveness.
And the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Mike Hawes has said that while Nissan's commitment to building its next Qashqai SUV in Sunderland was positive, conclusions couldn't be drawn from just one manufacturer. A different company "will potentially be in a very different position", he told the Treasury Select Committee, when discussing on the UK's future economic relationship with the European Union in January.
"I sense certainly that the amount invested over the last 12 months will not be as high as the preceding one, two, three years."