Reuters / August 25, 2005
Paris -- Toyota Motor Corp. is set to boost output at its north French plant to meet booming European demand for its cars, despite higher wage costs, a media report and a company official in France said on Thursday.
La Tribune newspaper said that Toyota Motor Manufacturing France was about to hire another 1000 staff and would soon add a SUV version to the new Yaris model that is being built in a factory at Onnaing, near Valenciennes.
Nicolas Fayot, spokesman for the factory, declined to confirm or deny the report but said that it was "friendly" and that, faced with rising demand for Toyota cars in Europe for several years, it would be logical to increase capacity in Valenciennes.
"Toyota will unveil its plans about the Yaris-II at the Frankfurt Car Show on Sept. 12. I cannot comment on investments or capacity before then," he said.
While declining to comment directly on staffing plans, he said that an increase of 1000 staff would be very large.
Toyota Motor Europe in Brussels declined to comment ahead of the Frankfurt show, a key industry event.
The Valenciennes plant employs about 3030 workers and produced 204 000 vehicles in 2004, according to the company's Web site.
The newspaper said the new Yaris model was due for launch in 2007.
The paper said the vehicle would use the same platform -- chassis and drive train -- as the new Yaris that the Valenciennes plant had started to manufacture.
The Toyota RAV4 was the best selling SUV in France in the first six months of 2005 and demand is booming for SUVs despite their high fuel consumption and surging oil prices.
France's biggest carmaker, Renault SA, is also due to unveil an SUV at the Frankfurt show, but the model will be built at the Renault Samsung factory in South Korea using the platform of the Nissan X-Trail model.
PSA Peugeot Citroen in July signed a deal with Mitsubishi to produce new SUV models in Japan.
Toyota created 500 new jobs at Valenciennes when it moved the Yaris production to three shifts in May 2004, and at the time said output could be raised to 240 000 units per year.
The newspaper said the group aimed to sell 250,000 units of the new Yaris per year. Valenciennes, centrally located for the French, Benelux and German markets and near the port of Antwerp, started Yaris production in January 2001.
Toyota, Japan's biggest carmaker, also produces the bigger Corolla and Aventis models at its U.K. factory in Burnaston.
From Automotive News