Toyota today marked the official start of production of the new Auris Touring Sports at Toyota Manufacturing UK's (TMUK) Burnaston car plant.
The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, UK Secretary of State for Transport, joined Didier Leroy, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Motor Europe, at a ceremony to see the new car off the line at the Derbyshire factory.
Welcoming Toyota's continued investment in British jobs and manufacturing, McLoughlin said: "Toyota's on-going investment in Burnaston is a huge vote of confidence in our thriving car manufacturing industry, proving again Britain's ability to make world class cars that appeal to a global customer base. It is thanks to the support of manufacturers like Toyota that we are encouraging more young people to pursue an engineering career. This is an industry that is helping generate the jobs and wealth we need to secure the UK's place in the global economic race."
Leroy congratulated TMUK on its latest production milestone and expressed the significance of Auris Touring Sports in extending the Auris range's appeal to even more customers. He said: "TMUK has the Members with the skills, experience and capabilities that make it an ideal centre for manufacturing new Auris Touring Sports. Adding this model to its production portfolio will help bring production levels at TMUK up to its full current operating capacity."
Expressing the new car's significance for Toyota in Europe, Leroy added: "Auris Touring Sports marks a further stage in our programme for bringing more Toyota hybrid models to the market in Europe, cars that meet the needs of an even wider range of customers. It will be a unique proposition as the only model in the European family/compact estate car market to offer the choice of full hybrid, in addition to conventional petrol and diesel power."
TMUK is the sole production centre for Auris Touring Sports, a model that has been developed exclusively for European customers. It is a compact estate car based on the British-built Auris hatchback, and will go on sale in some early European markets as from July, taking its place alongside Toyota's new Auris and Verso compact MPV to compete at the heart of the family car market.
It is the only model in its segment to offer the option of a full hybrid powertrain, demonstrating Toyota's commitment to make the high efficiency, low emissions and smooth driving experience of its hybrid technology available to more customers.
It will add to the momentum of hybrid in Europe, where it now accounts for more than 20 per cent of Toyota's new car sales.
Within the Auris Touring Sports range, hybrid is expected to take a higher 45 per cent share alongside the petrol and diesel versions. The steady increase in the popularity of hybrid demonstrates how customer attitudes to the technology have matured and that it is now regarded as an affordable, reliable and desirable alternative to conventional petrol and diesel, rather than a niche choice.
TMUK has built strong expertise in hybrid vehicle manufacturing at its Deeside engine plant in North Wales and at Burnaston, since starting production of the first generation Auris Hybrid in 2010 - the first Toyota hybrid to be built in Europe.
The addition of Auris Touring Sports production at TMUK alongside the Auris and Avensis models reaffirms Toyota's commitment to building cars in the UK. Since 1992 it has invested more than £2.1 billion in its operations.
Currently TMUK employs more than 3,800 people and supports an extensive supplier chain in the UK, from which Toyota Motor Europe typically purchases around £850 million worth of parts a year. Its manufacturing makes a significant contribution to the British overseas trade, with around 85 per cent of vehicle production being exported to Europe and other world markets. ∎
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