Second facelift Avensis brought latest Toyota corporate nosejob to the D segment contender

Second facelift Avensis brought latest Toyota corporate nosejob to the D segment contender

Toyota's UK manufacturing unit said its Burnaston factory had achieved an "unprecedented simultaneous start of production" for updated versions of the Auris (Corolla) and Avensis.

The strategic planning and commitment of workforce and suppliers helped meet a challenge "unprecedented in Toyota outside Japan", the automaker claimed.

It should be pointed out neither was a full model change - according to just-auto's PLDB, this is the second facelift for an Avensis generation launched first in 2008, albeit involving sheet metal and nose clip changes, while the Auris facelift is the first for a line launched late in 2012 (hatchback) and 2013 (wagon, known as Touring Sports)

Preparations for both updates began in 2013, as plans for significant changes to both the vehicle ranges were put in place.

At its most crucial point, the Derbyshire factory had to accelerate from building zero to 800 of the new cars a day, in the space of just 10 days.

The situation was made more complex because all versions of both cars are built on the same production line, by the same teams, from panel press, through welding, paint shop and final assembly. The model lines include Avensis saloons/sedans, Auris hatchbacks and the Touring Sports wagon variants of both models, with petrol, diesel and hybrid engines and a mix of manual and automatic transmissions.

Toyota Manufacturing UK project manager Jon Corpe said: "Normally, as production of an outgoing model slows down, the build of the new one takes over on the line to compensate, so the number of cars leaving the plant is fairly consistent. In this case, production of both models came to an end at the same time. We had to be sure we could meet global demand for the new cars immediately."

Burnaston was ready to build its first units last December with an initial 91 coming off the line for use in training, testing and product evaluation. The workforce was trained in Japan and at Toyota Motor Europe HQ in Brussels. Twelve reached the level of 'master trainer'.

TMUK deputy managing director Tony Walker said: "Our people are very experienced, the average length of service is 12 years, so they were absolutely ready to take on something like this. The new models "take us up to nine new model launches since Burnaston came on stream in 1992 with a similar number of 'minor change' programmes as well."

Corpe said: "Press, weld and paint shops have new tooling and jigs to support body manufacture and painting, and the substantial number of improvements to the vehicle, in areas such as safety and handling, require additional parts and processes.

"But the greatest level of change is in the plastics and assembly shops. In plastics, most of the processes have been affected, calling for new moulds and great deal of new tooling and equipment, and half the assembly processes are new as well."

Three new engines and a full powertrain upgrade to Euro 6 emissions standards added complexity. The introduction of new preventive safety features called for a redesign of Burnaston’s vehicle test track.

Success also relied on TMUK suppliers all being ready to supply the necessary number of new parts, all validated for quality and performance, on time.

Avensis sales have begun with deliveries starting later this month; updated Auris order books open on 1 July with first deliveries from September.