Toyota has launched production of its first hybrid vehicle built in Europe at the carmaker’s Burnaston Plant in Derbyshire.
The ‘Auris Hybrid’ is Toyota’s first model to introduce hybrid technology into an existing compact, or ‘C-segment,’ car.
Business secretary Vince Cable, who attended the launch today in Derbyshire, said 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.
Speaking ahead of today’s roll out he stated: ‘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.’
According to Toyota, the new 5-door hatchback Auris is equipped with the first and only full hybrid powertrain in the C-Segment market.
The vehicle’s ‘hybrid synergy drive’ has its roots in the first generation Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, which was launched in Japan in 1997 and in Europe in 2000.
Toyota said the launch of the Auris Hybrid is a major step in the deployment of its full hybrid drive technology across the company’s entire model range by the early 2020s.
The Auris Hybrid’s specs demonstrate the vehicle achieves 74.3mpg (combined cycle) and low tax-efficient carbon dioxide emissions of 89g/km. It is claimed the Auris Hybrid also generates significantly lower NOx and PM emissions than diesel engined cars of comparable performance.
The new vehicle will be assembled at Toyota Manufacturing UK’s Burnaston plant, in Derbyshire, while the hybrid synergy drive system’s petrol engine will be built in Deeside, North Wales.
Katsunori Kojima, managing director of Toyota Manufacturing UK, stated the company plans to demonstrate eco-friendly principles in its production practices as well as its vehicles. ‘As a model sustainable plant for Toyota in Europe we will truly be an eco plant with eco-minded people building eco cars,’ he said.
Opened in 1992, Burnaston was Toyota’s first European plant and will now become the first plant to manufacture what the carmaker calls ‘full hybrid vehicles’ in Europe. The Auris Hybrid will be built in the same production line as petrol and diesel Auris, alongside the Avensis.
Toyota Manufacturing UK (TMUK) represents a total investment of £1.85bn and is one of nine Toyota manufacturing companies in greater Europe. TMUK vehicle production passed the three million mark in June 2010.