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Toyota warns Government it may stop manufacturing in UK if it bans hybrid cars

·3-min read
Toyota
Toyota

Toyota has warned the Government that it may end manufacturing in the UK if it brings in a ban on hybrid models from 2030 as part of net zero plans.

The car manufacturer, which is one of the world’s largest, told the Government that restrictions on the sale of its hybrid models would impact on the company’s “manufacturing, retail and other business activities” and its “future investment” in the UK, according to documents seen by The Telegraph.

The Government has set a 2030 phase-out date for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, but will allow the greenest hybrids to be sold until 2035.

It will define the standard for hybrids in new regulations later this year after consultations held with the industry and green groups, but it is expected to ban all but the most efficient plug-in hybrids.

That would rule out Toyota’s popular self-charging hybrid Corolla, which is made at the Burnaston plant in Derbyshire. The carmaker, which has had a 30-year manufacturing presence in the UK, employs around 3,000 people at the plant and its engine factory in Deeside, North Wales.

Around 3,000 people work at Toyota's Burnaston plant in Derbyshire - David Jones/PA
Around 3,000 people work at Toyota's Burnaston plant in Derbyshire - David Jones/PA

In its response to a government consultation held last year, Toyota warned against stringent regulations on its hybrid models.

The document reads: “If the Government adopts an SZEC [significant zero emission capability] requirement that causes an early end to the sale of new full hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales in 2030, there would be an impact on a number of areas.”

Toyota said the impacts would affect not only its manufacturing presence and future investment, but also the UK’s levelling up agenda and its ability to meet net zero goals.

The documents were obtained via a Freedom of Information request by environmental think tank InfluenceMap.

In its response, Toyota also pushed back against the Government’s planned electric vehicle sales quota, under which manufacturers will have to sell an increasing percentage of pure EVs until 2035. Failure to do so would see manufacturers hit with fines that could reach millions of pounds.

Loss of Toyota would be ‘very significant’

Toyota, which pioneered hybrid models with the Prius, has been slow to the fully electric transition compared to other manufacturers.

The loss of Toyota would be “very significant” for an already wounded UK car industry, said Prof Andrew Graves at the University of Bath, a 50-year UK car industry veteran.

In the last year, UK car making has suffered the loss of Honda’s plant in Swindon and car making at Vauxhall’s plant at Ellesmere Port, which has switched to producing vans.

“I mean, we’re seeing one after the other go,” he added. Prof Graves started his career in 1966 as a trainee manager with Rootes Group, maker of the Hillman Imp. He worked for Lotus before working as an academic.

Hybrid cars provide lower emission alternative

Toyota is the fourth-biggest car maker in the UK after Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Mini. It made 124,918 Corollas in 2021 out of the total 859,575 cars made in the UK.

The manufacturer argues that its Corolla model, which sells for around £25,000, provides a lower emission alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles for those who cannot afford to switch to pure electric.

A Toyota spokesman said that “we are focused on achieving a long term and sustainable future, including for our UK plants, as we move towards our ultimate goal of securing carbon neutral operations in 2035”.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “In a world-leading pledge to clean up our air and boost green jobs, we’ve committed to ensuring all new cars and vans sold in the UK are zero emission at the tailpipe by 2035.

“Vehicle manufacturers and supply chains play a vital role in the transition to cleaner vehicles and we continue to work closely with the industry to help shape future regulations.”