Toyota built its 4.5 millionth car in Britain last week, with the landmark model (a 1.8-litre Corolla) rolling off the production line at its Derbyshire plant on Friday.
Production resumed at the factory on May 26 following Covid-19-related shutdowns, with Toyota implementing revised health and safety procedures at its locations.
At its full capacity, the facility in Burnaston – south-west of Derby – produces a car every 89 seconds. That equates to an average of 3,000 cars per week and 150,000 cars per year.
Toyota says about 90% of the cars produced in Burnaston are exported to overseas markets, particularly Europe. To highlight the point, the landmark Corolla was a left-hand-drive model destined for Poland.
Jim Crosbie, Toyota Manufacturing UK (TMUK) managing director, said: “Seeing our 4.5 millionth car come off the line gives everyone at TMUK a sense of pride in what we have achieved in almost 30 years of high-quality manufacturing.
“It also symbolises the great commitment and team spirit of all our members to overcome the challenges we have faced and secure our future as a competitive and highly efficient business.”
Burnaston was the first Toyota manufacturing centre in Europe when it opened in 1992. Today, it is the European production centre for the Toyota Corolla Hatchback and Touring Sports models, and employs more than 3,100 people.
A timely reminder for British politicians
Despite the current preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic, the issue of Britain’s future relationship with the EU remains a big headache for the British car industry.
While some car manufacturers and industry lobbyists have been very keen to tell the media that a no-deal trading relationship would be catastrophic, Toyota has publicly remained very low-key. It prefers to talk up the great job that its workers in Burnaston do rather than threatening to leave every couple of months. But this week’s announcement carried a pointed message for our politicians: 90% of all Corollas that roll off the Burnaston production line – including car number 4,500,000 – are built for export.
With the government still threatening to walk away from any potential agreement with the EU, and also considering a scrappage allowance for electric vehicles (despite most electric vehicles being imported rather than built locally), Toyota is making the point that the local car industry plays a key role in the overall British economy. Is anyone in Westminster listening?
Stuart Masson, Editor