UK motor industry representatives are optimistic General Motors will place the manufacture of its Ampera (European version of the Chevy Volt) in Britain, following the start of Toyota ‘s new Auris hybrid production in the country this week.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) hailed the siting of Toyota’s new hybrid at its UK plant near Derby as evidence of the attraction of Britain for overseas producers.

“It [GM] has not made the decision yet, but we are definitely in the game to secure it,” SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt told just-auto.

“In another 12 months we could be at the very heart of low carbon production in Europe. With the [Nissan] Leaf production it gives the UK a high proportion of low carbon technology. We have always been open for business.”

Everitt added the start of Toyota’s Auris production signalled a vote of confidence in the UK as a manufacturing base and would significantly boost the local economy and supply base.

The SMMT boss also highlighted what he said could be a shift in UK government emphasis from a former reliance on the financial sector to one where manufacturing played more of a strategic role in the economy.

“Perhaps UK manufacturing was of secondary importance to financial services [but now] manufacturing is top of the government agenda,” he said.

“In the UK we maintain a highly flexible and productive workforce and we do support skills and training.”

The SMMT is hosting its second International Automotive Summit in London today (30 June), where secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, Vince Cable, is due to flesh out the new coalition government’s strategy for the industry.