Toyota may build diesel car engines in the U.K. to make better use of production capacity and to supply cars built in the region, a company executive told Bloomberg News in an interview at the Geneva Motor show.

“There’s capacity left in the U.K. engine plant and we hope to use that capacity by making diesel engines,” Akira Imai, president of Toyota Motor Europe Marketing and Engineering, told Bloomberg News.


Details are still being worked out, he said.


The Deeside, Wales, factory has enough capacity for 350,000 to 400,000 engines a year but made just 132,000 in 2000, Bloomberg said.


Toyota is looking to lift sales of diesel models as 40 percent of cars sold in Europe are diesel-powered.


Bloomberg said that Toyota also wants to increase local parts purchasing from around 80 percent to cut costs and imports from Japan.


“It’s logical to make vehicles and engines in the market where they are sold,” Imai told Bloomberg.


If Toyota were to make diesel engines at Deeside, they would probably be larger than 1.4 litres, analysts told the news organisation.


Toyota already plans to start building 1.4-litre diesel engines at its plant in Valenciennes, France, in 2003 for the locally-produced Yaris supermini.


According to Bloomberg, Toyota imports two-litre petrol and diesel engines from Japan for Avensis models assembled at its Burnaston, Derbyshire plant in northern England, while the company makes one-, 1.4-, 1.6- and 1.8-litre petrol engines on Deeside.


“Because Toyota has been tremendously successful in North America and Japan, diesel engines had lower priority,” Imai told Bloomberg News. “In Europe, it’s essential that automakers have good performing diesel engines.”


Imai told Bloomberg that, from 2003, Toyota will equip diesel cars sold in Europe with its DPNR (diesel particulate nitrogen oxide reduction) engine, which filters harmful particulate matter and smog-forming nitrogen oxide exhaust at the same time.


He noted that the technology hadn’t been developed by competitors.


Toyota intends to raise its European market share to five percent, or 800,000 units, by 2005 from 3.7 percent, or 655,800 units, last year.


“There’s a possibility that (the market share target) will be met sooner — and before 2005,” Imai told Bloomberg News.