Toyota’s Turkish factory is not planning to axe any of its 3,000 workers, Toyota Europe executive vice-president Hiroyuki Ochiai said at a plant event on Thursday.


The plant which builds the C-segment, Corolla-based seven-seat Verso MPV (a small minivan; the US equivalent is the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe) and some versions of the Corolla/Auris range such as the sedan, is celebrating the production of its millionth vehicle.


The milestone coincided with the start of production of the redesigned third generation Verso at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Turkey (TMMT) in Adapazari.


The plant has produced over 430,000 Versos since 2004 and the new model has a full year European sales target of 55,000 units after sales start next month.


Speaking ahead of the event, Ochiai said: “Toyota’s operations in Europe have benefited from an extremely rewarding partnership with Turkey. Thanks to the commitment of a highly-skilled local workforce, Toyota is now one of Turkey’s biggest automotive exporters. This is a great achievement, and particularly significant in light of current, tough market conditions.”


The original, five seat Verso was launched in 2001 and the second generation car, with seven seats, topped the Autobild TÜV report in 2008, recording the lowest number of defects for a two- to three-year-old model in Germany. French owners rated it ‘best-in-segment’ in the last JD Power & Associates satisfaction survey.


TMMT produced its first vehicle in 1994 and now employs about 3,000 workers. Total investment is over EUR1bn and it is one of nine Toyota manufacturing plants in Europe and Russia. In 2008, it shipped about 120,000 cars to European buyers.