Toyota considers building hybrid car in UK
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Toyota is considering producing a hybrid version of its Auris hatchback model in the UK, the company confirmed.
If it moves ahead with the plan, the car would be its first hybrid petrol-electric model to be built in Europe and one of the first to be made outside of Japan by the company, which dominates the segment globally.
The world’s largest carmaker said that it was investigating the possibility of building a hybrid Auris in Britain, but declined to comment further on its plans.
“At the moment, we’re currently investigating,” Karen Bradley, a spokeswoman for the company based at its plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire, told the Financial Times. “We can’t confirm anything at this stage.”
Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun, the Japanese industry daily, reported earlier on Tuesday that Toyota would produce the car in the UK from about 2012.
Toyota produced 102,000 units of the Auris model in its petrol-engined version in the UK last year. The carmaker also makes the model in Turkey.
The car was Toyota’s third best-selling car in the first five months of this year.
Toyota currently makes most of its hybrid cars in Japan, although it also assembles its Prius in small numbers in China. It recently began producing a hybrid version of its Camry in Kentucky, and plans to build the car from later this year in Thailand and early next year in Australia.
Toyota plans to build the Prius in Mississippi were put on hold because of the economic crisis, which has led to a slump in hybrid sales in the US.
Hybrid cars are propelled by batteries over short distances, and are backed up by petrol or diesel engines over longer ones. Toyota has said it wants to produce hybrid versions of all of its models by 2020.
Toyota sold 429,740 hybrid vehicles worldwide last year, including 285,675 units of the Prius.
Britain is trying to position itself as a hub for the production of “greener” cars, including hybrids and plug-in electric models.
Gordon Brown’s government has discussed with General Motors the possibility of bringing production of its plug-in Volt car to GM’s plant in Ellesmere Port.
Nissan, the UK’s largest carmaker, may also produce an electric car at its plant in Sunderland, although the Japanese company has not yet confirmed any plans.
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