Toyota sees motivation as the certain route to quality: A Japanese firm is aiming to employ 3,000 staff producing 200,000 cars a year in Derbyshire. Jonathan Foster looks at its paternalistic style

TOYOTA is still hiring. Inside the new factory in the Midlands, inspired by mid-west mall architecture, they will need more production workers next month as output of the middle range Carina increases toward its annual target of 100,000 cars by 1994.

Beyond Toyota's arborial landscaping, suppliers of components and services are establishing roots in a regional automotive economy which could be worth pounds 100m a year if the plant achieves its long-term aim of 200,000 cars a year and 3,000 jobs. Production began yesterday on the site of a former private aerodrome at Burnaston, Derbyshire, between Derby and Burton on Trent.

Burnaston is a commuter factory. Of 1,100 people on the payroll, most of them represented by the engineering workers' union, about 90 per cent live within 35 miles of the plant, hardly any within a bicycle ride. The average employee is aged 30, male, and has no experience of working in automotive industries. He has been recruited by psychological tests of motivation, and trained in Britain, Japan or the US at a cost of pounds 7.2m to Toyota and nothing to Derbyshire County Council.

Only 78 of the workforce are Japanese. The manufacturing regime lays emphasis on teamwork and consensus, a pattern of working practices Toyota insists is its own, not part of any generic Japanese system.

Those already on the payroll claim there is an obsessive drive for - and pride in - quality. It was familiar to those who had worked in the past for Rolls- Royce in Derby, an employer which, until recently, affected a similar paternal style.

'There is a theory of a Japanese master plan, a global economic conspiracy. I do not subscribe to it at all,' Rosemary Yates, Japanese expert with the Sheffield-based commercial lawyers Dibb Lupton Broomhead, said.

'Instead, there are a lot of individuals under intense pressure to get the factory going, anxious about their market share, trying to get round protectionism.'

Ms Yates advised the county council when it persuaded Toyota in 1989 to choose Burnaston in preference to sites which carried Whitehall grants. Derbyshire had the right geography, the right greenfield site, and the right manners in dealing with Toyota - 'deference, but not subservience', Ms Yates said.

The decorous behaviour has been mutual. Toyota took care to re-locate badger setts, invited local people to tea in a marquee; Mr Suzuki, now back in Japan after supervising factory construction, will be warmly remembered in Hatton, Egginton, and Etwall.

Representatives of local villages, a ring of about a dozen affluent rural communities around the plant, formed a committee which liaised with Mr Suzuki.

'We've met every month or two months since 1989,' Margaret Roe, a local councillor who chaired the committee, said.

'There was never any great hostility. People were 50-50 between those who wanted it left as it was and those who realised the importance to the region of the jobs.'

Ms Yates added: 'Toyota have cared about getting on with the community. They do not have that role in Japan, and they were keen to do the right thing in Burnaston. In my experience, Japanese investment has been hugely to the benefit of the UK because of their higher profile, the peripheral benefits and because of the importance of quality. British companies have learned a lot.'

But Ms Yates thinks there may not be much more to learn. 'The big wave of Japanese investment has been and gone,' she said. German crisis, page 24

Commentary, page 25

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam