Toyota opened a new chapter in its European operations with the official start of production of the new Auris Touring Sports and Auris Touring Sports Hybrid.

These Auris models are built at Toyota Manufacturing UK’s (TMUK) Burnaston car plant.

Welcoming Toyota’s continued investment in British jobs and manufacturing, the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said: “Toyota’s ongoing investment in Burnaston is a huge vote of confidence in our thriving car manufacturing industry, proving again Britain’s ability to make world class cars that appeal to a global customer base. It is thanks to the support of manufacturers like Toyota that we are encouraging more young people to pursue an engineering career. This is an industry that is helping generate the jobs and wealth we need to secure the UK’s place in the global economic race.”

Expressing the new car’s significance for Toyota in Europe, Didier Leroy, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe said the “Auris Touring Sports marks a further stage in our programme for bringing more Toyota hybrid models to the market in Europe, cars that meet the needs of an even wider range of customers. It will be a unique proposition as the only model in the European family/compact estate car market to offer the choice of full hybrid, in addition to conventional petrol and diesel power.”

TMUK is the sole production centre for the Auris Touring Sports, a model that has been developed exclusively for European customers. It is a compact station wagon based on the British-built Auris hatchback, and will go on sale in some early European markets as of July, taking its place alongside Toyota’s new Auris and Verso compact MPV to compete at the heart of the family car market.

Toyota said it is the only model in its segment to offer the option of a full hybrid powertrain, demonstrating Toyota’s commitment to make the high efficiency, low emissions and smooth driving experience of its hybrid technology available to more customers.

It will add to the momentum of hybrid in Europe, where it now accounts for more than 20 per cent of Toyota’s new car sales.

Within the Auris Touring Sports range, hybrid is expected to take a higher 45 percent share alongside the gasoline and diesel versions.

According to Toyota, the steady increase in the popularity of hybrid demonstrates how customer attitudes to the technology have matured and that it is now regarded as an affordable, reliable and desirable alternative to conventional petrol and diesel, rather than a niche choice.

The production launch of this Auris, which shares a lot with the vehicle known in North America as the Corolla, happens a few days before the expected announcement of a new generation of the North American Corolla.