At the company's car factory in Burnaston, central England, Toyota began producing Europe's first full hybrid vehicle on June 28. The first European-made hybrid version of Toyota's Auris hatchback rolled off the production line under the watchful eye of the government's business minister Vince Cable, handing a boost to Britain's battered auto industry.
"Toyota's decision to make Burnaston the only plant in the world to build the Hybrid Auris is a strong endorsement of the UK as a manufacturing base for the next generation of cars," said Cable, after touring the Burnaston plant. "It is sending a signal to manufacturers that if you're not in the UK, then you're missing out on all the strengths and skills that the UK has to offer."
The new Aurus Hybrid Synergy Drive car, which uses both a traditional petrol engine and an electric motor, will arrive at British car showrooms on July 1.
The model will be assembled at Burnaston, in Derbyshire, while the engines will be produced in Deeside, northern Wales. They are the first hybrid engines to be made outside of Japan.
Production of the Auris car will help safeguard around 400 British jobs at the two factories.
"The UK has proved to be a valuable business partner," said Toyota's Motor Europe president Didier Leroy on June 28.
"A new chapter is opening today as Britain, a traditional origin of industrial innovation, becomes home to the manufacture of the first full hybrid vehicle for Europe."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010