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Toyota warns of UK exit in event of no-deal Brexit

Tokyo

TOYOTA Motor warned that it may end manufacturing in the UK if the country crashes out of the European Union on unfavourable terms, joining other carmakers reviewing their operations in Britain as negotiations toward Brexit drag on.

"If the business environment becomes very difficult to operate, of course those types of decisions should be on the agenda," Johan van Zyl, the Japanese company's head of Europe, told reporters at the Geneva Motor Show on Wednesday. "But hopefully we will be able to avoid" a withdrawal.

The Toyota executive's comments follow Nissan Motor's decision last month to renege on plans to build the X-Trail sport utility vehicle in England and Honda Motor's announcement to end production in the country in 2021.

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Britain has long been a Japanese hub for European auto production, with Honda, Nissan and Toyota owning three of the country's six largest factories.

Toyota pledged an investment of £240 million (S$428 million) in 2017 to produce the new version of the Corolla in England and upgrade its vehicle platform.

It now produces about 180,000 of the cars a year at its plant in the town of Burnaston. The carmaker remains hopeful the UK and EU will reach an agreement on Brexit terms, Mr van Zyl said.

"If there is a bad Brexit, we will need to look at future investments," he said.

The carmaker may need to make decisions about the production of the next Corolla before the current version reaches the end of its model cycle in about 2023, he said.

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