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Toyota Commits to Post-Brexit Britain

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In the days leading up to Brexit and in its aftermath, a lot of doubt was expressed about auto manufacturers’ ability to continue operating in Britain. Toyota, however, has just announced it is staying on.

The next-generation Auris hatchback, known as the Corolla iM in the United States, will be built at the company’s Burnaston plant in Derbyshire. This follows similar news by Nissan and Honda, safeguarding the future of Japanese car manufacturing in Britain into the next decade.

According to Toyota, this move will help secure more than 3,000 jobs across its plants in Burnaston and Deeside. Nonetheless, there is no question there will be struggles ahead: earlier this month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers cited a one-third drop in investment in the UK’s automotive sector, as companies wait to see how the country’s relationship with the EU will develop. In the meantime, many are worried about increased export tariffs.

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Toyota, for the time being, was always likely to make this decision, as it has already invested more than £2.5 billion in the UK, more than any it has spent on other European countries. Last year, it also said it would spend £240 million preparing Burnaston for the production of new models; the upcoming Auris is the first of these.

For now, the move can be interpreted as a vote of confidence in the UK. But that confidence is not likely to last forever, and Dr. Johan van Zyl, the president of Toyota Europe, included a warning in his statement.

“As a company, we are doing what we can to secure the competitiveness of our UK operations as a leading manufacturing center for our European business,” he said. “With around 85% of our UK vehicles production exported to European markets, continued free and frictionless trade between the UK and Europe will be vital for future success.”

“We have been here 25 years…Toyota is a long-term investor, but if the business environment—not just for the UK but as a general statement—is not conducive for doing business, we will not invest,” he then added.

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