Production on the new Toyota Corolla model has started today at the company’s Burnaston plant, following a £240m upgrade to the factory.
The Burnaston factory is the exclusive European production centre for the new model.
The business claim the vehicle will play a “critical role” in the Japanese firms European “market ambitions”.
Facilities at the factory have been upgraded with new equipment, technologies and systems.
According to Toyota, it has included the installation of more than 200 high-speed robots.
The new model is the first in Europe to offer a choice of two self-charging hybrid electric powertrains, and are to be launched commercially in Europe from February this year.
The Corolla will offer customers an upgraded 1.8 litre engine that is manufactured at the Toyota Deeside engine plant in North Wales, and a new powerful 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain.
To date, the Derbyshire facility has produced over four million cars and engines and currently employs around 3,200 people across both sites. In 2010, Burnaston was Toyota’s first European site for hybrid electric vehicle production, with the introduction of the first Auris Hybrid model.
Toyota’s decision to invest in the factory and manufacture the new Corolla at Burnaston is a significant boost for the plant, particularly in light of uncertainty posed by Brexit to the British automotive industry.
Car manufacturers with factories in the UK have called for a frictionless trade agreement with the rest of Europe once Britain leaves the EU in March.
Aston Martin’s chief executive, Andy Palmer told Reuters that uncertainty caused by Brexit is continuing to cause concerns: “I don’t think we’ve been in a position in the last two years where we’ve been further apart from understanding where we’re going to end up,” he said.
The luxury car maker is also stockpiling cars in Germany as part of its no-deal strategy. “It’s an inventory to some extent that we put in place during the course of 2018, and depending on what happens in the next few weeks, may or may not increase,” Palmer added.
This also follows Britain’s largest automotive manufacturer, JLR, releasing the news that it is cutting around 4,500 jobs, largely from its UK workforce. Many of these job losses will be to back office roles opposed to production, as part of a cost-saving strategy.
Though the company also released that it will further invest in electrification, with electric drive units to be built at its factory in Wolverhampton and a new battery assembly centre in Birmingham.