John Moylan, the BBC’s car manufacturing correspondent, says the UK must brace itself for Brexit woes despite Toyota making Britain part of its long-term future.
The BBC’s car manufacturing correspondent John Moylan says, despite Toyota announcing plans to upgrade its UK plant with its New Global Architecture, its new system for producing vehicles worldwide, UK car manufacturing must brace itself for Brexit woes. Moylan said that Toyota’s decision suggested the company saw the UK as playing a major part in its global activities but “the UK’s automotive industry knows that Brexit is coming and with it the possibility of tariffs and complex customs arrangements. That threatens the competitiveness of carmakers that rely upon the kind of just-in-time manufacturing which Toyota pioneered.”
Moylan’s comments come after Toyota announced that its Burnaston plant in Derbyshire will be boosted by a £240m investment as the production facility is upgraded to its new global platform. Toyota, like other carmakers, have previously enjoyed tariff-free access to the EU and will hope to continue to do so following Britain’s split. This has been important for the Burnaston facility as more than 85% of its output is shipped to mainland Europe. The news of major investment comes as a massive relief to the thousands of workers employed at the facility. But it also suggests optimism post-Brexit.
Dr Johan van Zyl, the president and Chief executive of Toyota Europe, said: “We are very focused on securing the global competitiveness of our European plants. This upgrade is a sign of confidence in our employees and suppliers and their focus on superior quality and greater efficiency.”
He welcomed a £21m contribution from the UK Government as part of the investment. This “Demonstrates that, as a company, we are doing all we can to raise the competitiveness of our Burnaston plant in Derbyshire. Continued tariff-and-barrier free market access between the UK and Europe that is predictable and uncomplicated will be vital for future success.”
“In essence, the £240 million will be spent on upgrading Burnaston’s equipment and systems – rather than adding to the firm’s 3,100-strong workforce,” said the Derby Telegraph’s Robin Johnson. “Toyota is looking to standardise many of the components and processes it uses across its factories – which collectively will help it to produce
“This kind of forward-thinking will hopefully off-set any nasty shocks the company may encounter if the UK is unsuccessful in its export tariff negotiations with the EU. It is clear that the top brass at Toyota think very highly of the Burnaston factory and its UK workforce. Back in 2015, they decided to entrust the factory with the production of an updated version of the popular Auris hatchback and the all-new Avensis. Of course, this was all before there was any talk of Brexit.”
Business Secretary Greg Clark said Toyota’s 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”.