In the long term, hybrid cars have a dubious role in reducing emissions, especially those that are not a plug-in -let’s say self-recharging-. They continue to consume fossil-based energy, but their emissions are low and they are more readily available to more motorists. In the United Kingdom, they are planning to ban hybrids in advance in 2030, and if they leave any with the possibility of registering, it will be a plug-in.
Toyota, the UK’s fourth largest manufacturer, opposes such a move. In the manufacturer’s long-term plans, even in 2030, hybrids will continue to play a very important role in its range. Losing the UK as a market makes its presence in England and Wales, where some 125,000 Corollas were built last year, less essential.
The Telegraph reports that InfluenceMap has obtained, via a transparency petition, Toyota’s position on upcoming UK legislation: “If the Government adopts an SZEC policy, a requirement that causes an early end to the sale of new hybrid vehicles and plug-in hybrids in 2030, there will be impacts in several areas. They refer to manufacturing, distribution, and other business activities, as well as future investments.
The British Government is canvassing the positions of manufacturers and environmental groups before drafting the legislation. Toyota currently employs about 3,000 people in the country. On the one hand, there is the TMUK (official name of the factory) assembly plant in Burnaston (England), and there is also an engine plant in Deeside (Wales). Car production operations in the UK date back to December 1992, when the first Carina E (with ‘E’ for European) came out of the chain, engines being produced slightly earlier.
Certainly, Toyota would have room to end its operations in the UK, given its capacity to produce hybrid cars elsewhere in continental Europe, Turkey, or Japan. The permanence of its industrial footprint on account of “Brexit” was already in question, although Toyota made an early bet that there would be a tariff-free trade agreement with the European Union (which finally happened) to assign the Corolla to Burnaston.
The production of Toyota destined for the same United Kingdom is significant, in 2021 there were 19,341 units of the Corolla Hybrid, the rest were for export. We do not know Toyota’s electric car manufacturing plans for Europe. At the moment the bZ4X is manufactured exclusively in Japan. At the end of 2021, Toyota suddenly unveiled 15 electric car prototypes; having them is going to have them, but they will not be the majority of its sales in 2030 according to its forecasts.