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Toyota urges UK to lift ‘fog’ on Brexit negotiations

Toyota[1] has urged the UK government to lift the “fog” around Brexit[2] negotiations, to safeguard the competitiveness of the Japanese carmaker’s factories in the country. The drawn-out process surrounding the UK’s plan to leave the EU was creating “a lot of uncertainty”, said Didier Leroy, executive vice-president at Toyota, warning that an inability to secure free access to the European market could prompt the carmaker to reconsider the future of its Burnaston plant in the UK. “Today they [Burnaston] export 80-85 per cent of their production[3] to continental Europe, so if we move to something like an import tax, trade tax or any kind of additional penalty, it will create a big negative impact in terms of competitiveness for this plant,” he told reporters at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Toyota announced a ?234m investment[4] to upgrade the Burnaston plant in Derbyshire, which makes about 180,000 cars per year including Auris hatchbacks and Avensis saloons. That was supported by a ?21.3m loan from the UK government, which pledged to do all it could to maintain the competitiveness of Britain’s automotive sector in the wake of the vote last year to exit the EU. Toyota also makes engines at Deeside in Wales.

Toyota, Nissan[5] and Honda[6] collectively made almost half of the 1.7m cars built in the UK last year and employ 16,000 people. Nissan has played a more aggressive hand, committing to make new vehicles in the UK only after securing assurances[7] from the government that its trading conditions would be unchanged post-Brexit. Mr Leroy said Toyota had done its share by investing in Burnaston to make it more competitive and was still focused on keeping jobs in the UK for the long-term, but now the government needed to pull its weight.

The UK government should understand that we cannot stay in this kind of fog

“The UK government should also understand that we cannot stay in this kind of fog when we don’t know what will be the output of the negotiation.

And as quick as we can get clarity on that, better will be the way we can prepare [for] the future,” Mr Leroy said. Toyota and global rivals also are facing uncertainty on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, due to President Donald Trump’s push to bring manufacturing back to the US and threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Japanese carmaker on Tuesday said it would halve intended production capacity at its plant in Guanajuato, Mexico to 100,000 vehicles per year and cut planned investment by 30 per cent from an initial target of £1bn.


Mr Trump has threatened heavy import taxes on companies that choose to build cars in Mexico to sell in the US, with Toyota coming under particular fire.

The company regained some favour after announcing in August that it would spend £1.6bn on a new factory in the US as part of a tie-up[8] with Mazda[9], which would have the capacity to produce 300,000 vehicles annually and create up to 4,000 jobs.

Commenting on the trilateral trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico, Mr Leroy said: “Nafta is not just for automotive businesses, it’s much wider than that.” He added: “It’s extremely important for the global competitiveness of the economy that we will keep free access to the market and avoid any border tax”.

Mr Leroy said the scaling-back of Toyota’s Mexico plant was potentially temporary, aimed at ensuring the competitiveness of truck production in conjunction with its other facilities in Texas and Tijuana. “We are not doing any political game for this kind of thing,” he said.


  1. ^ Toyota (markets.ft.com)
  2. ^ Brexit (www.ft.com)
  3. ^ production (www.ft.com)
  4. ^ ?234m investment (www.ft.com)
  5. ^ Nissan (markets.ft.com)
  6. ^ Honda (markets.ft.com)
  7. ^ assurances (www.ft.com)
  8. ^ tie-up (www.ft.com)
  9. ^ Mazda (markets.ft.com)

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