Blog: To France. To drive an English Toyota.
Glenn Brooks | 9 December 2011
Toyota Motor Europe invited just-auto to Nice to sample the updated
Avensis. It's cold, dark and windy in England so how could we say no?
This part of the Cote d'Azur is a popular place to be launching
D-segment cars this week, with Kia also holding a drive
event for its new to Europe Optima. Sadly Graeme our news editor had
to cancel that one at the last minute (he's thankfully since recovered
from what sounded like a nasty stomach bug) but I'll be getting behind
the wheel of the RHD car in a few weeks' time so we'll have some
impressions of that one in January.
But back to the Avensis, which I shall write more about tomorrow after
I've driven it and spoken to the engineering, sales and marketing
execs who've been charged with making sure its mid-life makeover is
just right. TME invited me to a dinner this evening and I was lucky
enough to sit beside Katsunori Kojima, the MD of Toyota Motor
Manufacturing (UK). A 30-year veteran of Toyota, he's now in charge of
not only the Burnaston plant but also the powertrain operations in
Wales and the Corolla/Verso plant in Turkey.
I'll hopefully get some time to publish a Q&A with Kojima-san later on
Friday so keep an eye out for that: I questioned him about building
the CT 200h or other future four-cylinder Lexus vehicles in the UK,
whether or not TME will make the Auris replacement a Qashqai rival and
what he thinks of the Korean competition in the C and D segments. He's
a company man of course but still he gave me honest answers. He was
also keen to talk EVs - it seems TMC and TME are watching the roll out
of the Renault Nissan Alliance's products closely.
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