Brussels, Belgium,

Toyota starts production of all-New Avensis in the United Kingdom

Two Avensis models will roll off the line at 11:40 am today, marking the official start of production of Toyota's new flagship vehicle for Europe at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK (TMUK). The Burnaston Plant in Derbyshire will produce two Avensis body types — a sedan and wagon — to support a full year European sales target of 115,000 vehicles. Designed, engineered and built in Europe, the all-new Avensis will also be launched in Africa, Central & South America, as well as in Oceania. Sales begin across Europe from January 2009.

Speaking ahead of today's celebrations, Tadashi Arashima, CEO and President of Toyota Motor Europe, praised the quality and strength of its UK operations: 'The UK has proved to be a valuable economic and business partner. Building on more than 15 years of production history, TMUK's team members continue to deliver the quality, efficiency and flexibility needed to meet the exacting standards of our customers in Europe and around the world.'

The all-new Avensis comes equipped with Toyota Optimal Drive, a new concept that assures customers a powerful balance of reduced fuel consumption, low CO2 emissions, and uncompromised driving pleasure. In a first for Europe, the petrol engine range offers Toyota's revolutionary Valvematic technology, slashing fuel consumption by up to 26%. It also features Multidrive S — a new sequential 7-gear shift that uses the latest continuously variable transmission technology from Toyota.

The model's 1.6- and 1.8-litre petrol engines will be produced by TMUK'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 the new 6-speed automatic transmission — a first for a Toyota diesel passenger car in Europe. The third generation also offers unprecedented levels of active and passive safety, exemplified by Toyota's Pre Crash Safety System.

Avensis was launched in 1997 as the first Toyota model to be developed exclusively for Europe. More than 10 years later, the third generation Avensis has established itself as Toyota's flagship model for Europe. The new model has been designed in Europe (ED2 — France), engineered in Europe (Toyota Technical Centre — Belgium) and will be manufactured in Europe (UK and Poland) — bringing new levels of superior quality, dynamic handling and refined ride comfort to the mainstream D segment.

TMUK started production in 1992 as Toyota's first manufacturing company in Europe and today employs over 4,600 workers. The plant has produced over 2.5 million vehicles to-date, including the Carina E, Corolla, Avensis and Auris, for sale in Europe and export overseas. TMUK represents a total investment of &euro2.3 billion and is one of nine Toyota manufacturing companies in Greater Europe.