Toyota call on UK trade with Europe amid £240m Derbyshire plant investment
Toyota is to invest £240 million in its plant in Derbyshire, but the car giant's boss has called for continued tariff- and barrier-free access between the UK and Europe.
The Japanese firm said the investment into its plant in Burnaston will see the centre upgraded with new equipment, technologies and systems.
Dr Johan van Zyl, president and chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe, said the cash injection was a sign of confidence in employees and suppliers.
But he warned: "Continued tariff- and barrier-free market access between the UK and Europe that is predictable and uncomplicated will be vital for future success."
His comments come as the Government faces intense pressure to secure tariff-free access to the EU's single market for car manufacturers following Brexit.
The money will improve competitiveness and enhance the car marker's "supply chain efficiencies", as well as enable the production of vehicles on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, the group said.
Dr van Zyl added: "We are very focused on securing the global competitiveness of our European plants. The roll-out of TNGA manufacturing capability is part of this plan.
"This upgrade of Toyota Motor UK is a sign of confidence in our employees and suppliers and their focus on superior quality and greater efficiency. We welcome the UK Government funding contribution for this activity."
"Our investment demonstrates that, as a company, we are doing all we can to raise the competitiveness of our Burnaston plant in Derbyshire."
The money will be backed by up to £21.3 million of Government investment, subject to independent assessment, 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."
Theresa May has given special Brexit assurances to rival Japanese carmaker Nissan as thousands of jobs in the sector hang in the balance after the Prime Minister confirmed that she will extricate Britain from the free trade area.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "The confirmation of this platform upgrade at Toyota is further evidence that the UK car industry and the people who work in it are among the best in the world at what they do.
"Their skill and efficiency right through the supply chain to the production line is second to none.
"They need to know that the Government has their back and will do whatever is necessary to ensure new models and new investment keeps coming to Britain.
"With discussions set to start on the replacement of models such as Vauxhall's Astra and decisions due on BMW's electric Mini, it is vital that Government ministers calm nerves by stating they will secure tariff-free access to the European single market and customs union in Brexit negotiations.
"This must also be backed up with investment in the UK's supply chain and new technology to ensure the UK remains a world leader in car manufacturing.
"The car industry is one of the jewels in our nation's manufacturing crown, Government ministers must work with us to keep it that way."
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: "This latest investment is welcome news for Toyota and the wider UK automotive sector. It's essential that investment continues in plants across the UK to maintain our global competitiveness and put us in the best position to secure new models in the future.
"After a decline in investments in the sector last year, government must continue to collaborate with industry and, as we leave the EU, deliver a deal that safeguards as many of the trading benefits we currently enjoy."