If you’re still coming to terms with MG Motor UK’s admission that it’s no longer going to carry out some final assembly here, then I’ve got a heart-warming story for you. With post-Brexit fears larger than ever, I’ve been eagerly waiting to write this little blog for a few days now.
Just weeks away from its 24th birthday, Toyota’s Burnaston plant in Derby has today celebrated building its four millionth car. In the early hours of Tuesday 11 October, the car in question, an Auris Hybrid, steadily, efficiently and proudly made its way down the production line.
However, this isn’t just a celebration of the Burnaston plant’s output – Toyota’s Deeside engine plant played its part, too. Like all Toyota petrol cars to be built in the UK, the engine was made for it here as well.
Last year, the Deeside engine facility made 239,728 petrol engines while the Burnaston assembly line made 190,161 cars. I was lucky enough to see some of those being built as I spent a day there watching Toyota’s legendary production methods in action.
Like most factory tours, you naturally end up with an affinity for the product. However, with Toyota you instinctively know you won’t end-up regretting the purchase – and that’s not just because everyone wears white gloves while carefully assembling your car.
My other half’s family have owned Toyotas since well before Burnaston was even thought of. They never went wrong (although some were stolen). In fact, they once gave me an Avensis cast-off to use (read destroy). It simply couldn’t be done. Sadly, it could be done all too easily to its MG ZR replacement.
But with the Hybrid cars, you’re getting something truly different. I’ve covered many thousands of miles in Toyota Hybrids. I’ve even bought and sold them. They are interesting in a mature, intellectual way.
You don’t get pleasure from driving them at ten tenths. You get the pleasure in measured, sensible driving. You still have to think about the drive, you still aim for the apices, but you do it in a stealthy, analytical way.
Such driving is rewarding both with regard to (the lack of) points on your licence and the price at the pumps (in more ways than one if you’re used to a filthy diesel). You appreciate the car’s fine ride quality too (just how much of a hand did Dr Alex Moulton have in Toyota’s chassis thinking?).
Mind you, I do have one request for Toyota. Many years ago, Toyota sent me a load of ‘I HEART my Hybrid’ stickers. They were great as they reminded me of those tacky ‘I love Unleaded’ stickers from the early 1990s.
Back then, you could carefully remove the ‘UN’ from leaded to annoy those pesky Greens. This time I stuck the Hybrid sticker to my de-catted and fettled TD5 diesel. Just for a sooty laugh, like.
However, I feel the time is now right for another round of stickers from Toyota. Surely, it’s about time they produced some quality stickers proclaiming their British products are proudly made by some 3,200 employees?
And before anyone has a go at me being all xenophobic and a Little Englander, I got the idea from travelling around France this the summer.
That’s because every Yaris over there carries a full-length sticker across the rear window proudly proclaiming that the supermini was assembled in France – and that everyone involved from build to buy was desperately proud of that.
In these turbulent times, wouldn’t it be nice to say that you’re supporting the home team? After all, if we cannot appreciate what we have, then why should anyone else? I don’t think anyone needs reminding that Toyota have efficient plants all over the globe, all eager to make the next generation Auris and Avensis.
So, with that in mind, you should all rush out and place an order for a one of Burnaston’s finest, right now – except you cannot buy the 4,000,000 Auris as that’s already being dispatched to a loyal customer. All that’s left of that milestone is a newly-planted tree…