Toyota to restart UK engine plant next week

Toyota will restart its UK engine plant next week, becoming the latest carmaker in Britain to reopen manufacturing operations after the shutdown.

Staff at the Japanese carmaker will return to the Deeside engine plant in North Wales from Monday to prepare for production commencing on Wednesday.

The site ships engines to car plants across the world, including Turkey, where Toyota is next week restarting production at its Sakarya site, which produces the C-HR and Corolla Sedan models.

The company’s UK carmaking facility at Burnaston in Derbyshire will remain closed for the time being, with a restart date to be announced in the coming weeks.

Like many carmakers reopening sites across Europe, Toyota has introduced measures to allow staff to work safely, including temperature checks, the wearing of face masks and new working practices to maintain social distancing.

Several UK plants are preparing to reopen with lower production levels as carmakers strive to revive revenues while also tempering output because of the collapse in demand. Car sales fell 97 per cent in the UK in April and by 80 per cent across western Europe. 

While China has bounced back after its lockdown earlier in the year, executives at BMW cautioned this week that demand in Europe would be lower for the rest of 2020.

“The start of easing of lockdown measures announced by various European countries or regional governments will make possible a reopening of car retailer showrooms in some countries and a restart of new vehicle sales — but on a gradual basis,” Toyota said on Friday. The group has already reopened sites in France and Poland.

Many of the UK plants reopening are those dedicated to shipping vehicles or engines outside Europe, including Toyota’s Deeside plant, which sells engines to South Africa, Brazil and Turkey.

Jaguar Land Rover has said it will reopen only one of its three UK plants, at Solihull, from May 18 to supply cars for the Chinese market. Rolls-Royce, Bentley and BMW’s Mini — which all export globally — have also restarted some production, while Aston Martin has opened its Welsh factory at St Athan to produce its DBX sport utility vehicle, a make-or-break model for the struggling brand.

Nissan, however, has said its Sunderland plant, which sells primarily to the UK and Europe, will remain closed until at least June.

Others, such as PSA’s Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port, also reliant on EU exports, are also closed.

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