50 years ago, Toyota laid what would be the first stone of its success story in Europe with the start-up of a small-scale vehicle assembly plant in Portugal. It was the year 1971, and the Japanese firm established together with Salvador Caetano its first production facility in the old continent, the Ovar plant, which began by producing the Corolla and the Dyna commercial vehicle in a chassis-cab version. Then came the Hiace van (manufactured in Portugal from 1979 to 2012) and the Hilux ‘pick-up’ (from 1981 to 1996), and today Toyota produces in Ovar the Land Cruiser Series 70 off-road vehicle, destined entirely for export to the South African market .
Today, half a century later, the Japanese firm already has invested more than 10 billion euros in all its plants of European production, which has led it to progressively increase its manufacturing volume in our continent. Thus, true to the philosophy ‘manufacture where you sell’, Toyota opened motor and vehicle factories in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the 1990s, a trend that later expanded to France, Turkey, Czech Republic, Poland and Russia, up to now having nine production centers.
From one floor to nine
Since it started its operations, manufacturing in Europe has accumulated a production of more than 13 million vehicles, and currently gives direct work to some 22,000 people, in addition to generating a business value of more than 6,000 million euros. True to its principles, Toyota has always sought to act with social responsibility, collaborating closely with the communities where it operates.
And is that all the vehicles that are a sales success in Europe for the Japanese firm, such as Aygo, Yaris, Corolla, C-HR and RAV4, are manufactured on the continent. So much so that total production has grown to around 800,000 vehicles per year, fueled by the recent launch of the Yaris Cross Electric Hybrid.
Precisely this commitment to hybridization is one of the strengths that have differentiated the company in Europe, since were among the first to manufacture electrified vehicles in our continent when they started production of the Auris Hybrid at the Toyota Manufacturing United Kingdom plant, back in 2010. Today, around 59% of all vehicles sold by Toyota and Lexus in Europe are electric hybrids, and most of them are manufactured in Europe.
In the words of Marvin Cooke, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Europe ” we are proud to have passed this milestone 50 years of production in Europe. The fact that more than two out of every three vehicles we sell in Europe have been manufactured here represents a notable contribution in terms of direct employment. In addition, we are reducing our environmental impact by producing a high volume of electrified locally, which allows us to reach the strict CO₂ targets for our car fleet in the EU at all times. ”