MORE than Â£7 million is being pumped into Toyota's engine factory in Britain to build the next generation of hybrid powertrains for a new crossover model.
The factory at Deeside in North Wales - which together with company's car plant at Burnaston in Derbyshire employs more than 3,000 workers - will produce the advanced 1.8-litre petrol/electric engine to be used in the new SUV.
The car - a rival to the Nissan Juke - is based on the C-HR concept which Toyota unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year and is due to be built in Turkey.
A production-ready version of the new crossover is slated to be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
Toyota already produces petrol and hybrid engines at Deeside for the British-built Auris range of cars and the plant also exports to other factories in Europe, South America, Japan and South Africa.
Jim Crosbie, engine plant director at Deeside, said: "Toyota has a long and successful record of building engines in North Wales. This announcement is a big vote of confidence in the high skills, quality and commitment of our workforce.
"Deeside was chosen to be Toyota's first plant in Europe to manufacture a hybrid engine and we are proud to have delivered on that opportunity and to have now been selected to build this next generation hybrid engine."
The £7 million investment to build the new hybrid engine includes a grant of more than £700,000 from the Welsh Government.
Last year Toyota's European hybrid sales reached 209,000 units, up 17 per cent on 2014. Hybrid vehicles now account for almost one quarter of all new Toyota models sold across all European markets, and about one third of those are sold in Western Europe.
Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport for the Welsh Government, said: "This is excellent news and I am delighted this very significant investment has been secured for Toyota's facility here. It will not only provide a platform for growth in what is an extremely competitive market but will also help secure the long term sustainable future of the plant and safeguard skilled, well-paid jobs in the region."