Toyota has announced that its Burnaston plant in Derbyshire will be upgraded to accommodate production of vehicles on its new global platform, thanks to an investment of £240 million.
The move is part of a global programme to ensure all of its plants can produce vehicles on the Toyota New Global Architecture platform. TNGA already underpins the fourth-generation Prius and the Toyota C-HR crossover, which is built in Turkey. The majority of Toyota’s models will use TNGA by 2020.
Currently, the Burnaston factory builds the Auris hatchback and estate, including hybrid variants, and the Avensis saloon. A Toyota spokesman told Autocar that the plans "future-proofed" the plant but could not confirm whether the same models would be produced there in future. However, he added that production and employee numbers would not be affected.
With a new Auris due next year and set to be built on the TNGA, the upgrade to facilitate the platform will need to be in place in the next 12 months.
The car maker said the investment will “improve plant competitiveness and additionally it will promote UK supply chain efficiencies”.
Toyota Europe boss Johan van Zyl said the company was focused on “securing the global competitiveness of our European plants. The roll-out of TNGA manufacturing capability is part of this plan”.
Van Zyl also addressed concerns regarding Britain’s upcoming departure from the EU. “Our investment demonstrates that, as a company, we are doing all we can to raise the competitiveness of our Burnaston plant in Derbyshire,” he 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 UK government is also set to invest £21.3m in the project to support skills and training, research and development and innovation.
Business and energy secretary Greg Clark said: “Our automotive sector is one of the most productive in the world and Toyota’s decision to invest £240 million upgrading its Burnaston plant is a further boost to the UK auto sector. I also welcome the prospect of investment to take Toyota New Global Architecture into the supply chain.
“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.”
Toyota's Burnaston factory opened in 1992, first producing the Carina E saloon. In 2016, it rolled 180,396 vehicles off its line and is at full capacity.