Toyota to create 500 jobs at Derby plant

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The Independent Online

The Japanese car maker Toyota gave the UK motor industry a further shot in the arm yesterday by announcing 500 new jobs at its Burnaston plant near Derby.

The company is to invest an extra £50m in the plant to lift production from 220,000 cars a year to 285,000. The factory makes the Avensis and Corolla models.

The jobs boost will lift employment at Burnaston to 4,600 and bring Toyota's total UK workforce to 5,350, including the 750 employed at its engine plant on Deeside. The investment will be concentrated on two of the bottlenecks at Burnaston ­ the paint shop and the welding line.

Tony Blair welcomed the expansion at Burnaston. "This decision affirms Toyota's commitment to manufacturing in the UK as a central location within Europe," he said. "This is good news, not just for the company but also for the UK automotive industry as it gears up for the challenges of developing new and cleaner vehicle technologies, of which Toyota is at the forefront."

The weakening of the pound against the euro is also thought to have influenced Toyota's decision as 80 per cent of Burnaston's output is exported, mainly to Continental Europe.

The expansion at Burnaston comes on the back of rising car sales for Toyota. Total European sales were up 22 per cent in the first quarter of this year and its share of the European market exceeded 5 per cent for the first time. Toyota has now set itself a target of selling 860,000 cars for the year ­ which would be a 3 per cent increase on sales last year.