Production began today of the new Toyota Avensis at Toyota’s Burnaston, UK, plant. It’s a bit of manufacting sector good news in Britain amid plenty of gloom lately and that attracted government ministers to the occasion.


Geoff Hoon, Secretary of State for Transport, officially launched the start of production.


Speaking ahead of the visit, Hoon said: “The investment Toyota has made in this new model is a real vote of confidence in both the workers at the Burnaston and Deeside plants and in the future of car manufacturing in the UK. The start of production marks a confident new chapter for the company, which is particularly important in these challenging times, but it also represents a vital boost for local jobs and the regional economy.”
 
The event was also welcomed by The Secretary of State for Business, Lord Mandelson, who added: “The automotive sector plays a vital role in ensuring the success of the UK economy. Our car industry has a highly skilled workforce and is one of the most efficient and productive in the world. Today’s launch of the new Avensis by Toyota demonstrates the company’s commitment to the UK. This level of commitment is vital if the UK is to remain a key competitive player in the global market. During these tough times, the government will continue to work closely with companies, like Toyota, to secure future investment and ensure that the UK remains the location of choice for manufacturers, however large or small.”
 
Mr Katsunori Kojima, Managing Director of Toyota Manufacturing UK added: “Our world class team here in the UK continues to deliver the quality, efficiency and flexibility needed to meet the demands of our customers. In challenging economic conditions, the new generation Avensis offers customers advanced fuel saving technologies, reduced emissions, as well as enhanced levels of safety. This truly reflects our commitment to delivering the right cars, for the right place, at the right time.”


The third generation all-new Avensis was designed at Toyota’s European Design Development Centre, ED2, in the south of France. Building on the success of the previous two models, the third generation brings new levels of superior quality, dynamic handling and refined ride comfort to Toyota’s European flagship model.
 
The model’s 1.6- and 1.8-litre petrol engines will be produced by Toyota’s plant in Deeside, North Wales, while the 2.0-litre Valvematic will be built in Japan. Toyota’s plants in Poland (TMIP and TMMP) will manufacture the 2.0- and 2.2-litre D-4D diesel engines and new 6-speed automatic transmission – a first for a Toyota diesel passenger car in Europe.


Avensis sales will start in January 2009 with an annual European sales target of 115,000 units ‘in keeping with current market conditions’ according to Toyota. Avensis will also be launched in Africa, Central & South America and Oceania.
 
Toyota Manufacturing UK is the sole global production centre for the Avensis. Since the first generation model was launched in 1997, over 1.45 million Avensis vehicles have driven off the production line at the Burnaston Plant.