Toyota denies plans to end UK production

Toyota reaffirmed its commitment to the UK after a newspaper reported it may halt making cars in the country because of government plans to shift more rapidly to fully electric vehicles.

The Japanese automaker said it’s ready to sell only zero-emission cars and reiterated its view that hybrids have a role to play in the transition by 2035 as the UK prepares to set new targets for the auto industry.

Toyota is focused on achieving a long-term and sustainable future in Europe, including for its British plants, the carmaker said in an emailed statement.

The company was responding to a Sunday Times report that it had warned Transport Secretary Grant Shapps it may cease manufacturing in Britain.

Toyota said it shares the UK’s ambition to head toward zero emissions, though declined to comment on the government’s mandates because it hasn’t seen a draft of the rules being prepared by the Department for Transport.

“We continue to see a role for many different technologies in the transition to zero emission based on the principle of mobility for all — including the current hybrid vehicles built in the UK,” Toyota said in the statement.

The government will require that zero-emission vehicles will make up a rising proportion of new car and van sales each year starting in 2024, the London-based Times reported. Manufacturers that don’t hit targets will have to pay penalties or buy credits from competitors who surpass the thresholds. Details of the mandate are still being developed.

Toyota said in December that it would be ready to sell only zero-emission cars in Europe by 2035 and set an intermediate goal for them to make up at least half of its sales by the end of the decade.

The company announced a more than 240 million-pound ($315 million) investment in its plant in Burnaston, central England, in 2017 to support production of Corolla compact cars. It also has an engine plant in Deeside, north Wales.

The UK plans to ban sales of new cars that run entirely on gasoline and diesel after 2030 and is permitting hybrid sales until 2035.

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