Britain still in running for investment, Toyota head assures

Hiroshi Okuda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., said his company has made no decision on future investment in Europe and Britain remains one of many possible options.In a statement issued Jan. 30, Okuda said, “The Toyota Motor Corp. position regarding future investment in Europe is now under study and nothing has been decided.” Clarifying an earlier remark, which stirred up a political row in Britain, Okuda added, “In the same manner, future investment in the U.K. is being considered as one of many possible options. This policy remains the same and has not changed at all.”For the Burnaston Plant in Derbyshire, England, TMC has invested 880 million pounds to carry out Carina E production capacity of 100,000 units annually.” Okuda added that Toyota is proceeding with an additional investment of 200 million pounds for a second factory expansion to produce 100,000 Corolla-type passenger vehicles from autumn 1998. “This investment is also no change in plan,” his statement said. “In every aspect and opportunity, TMC and all related personnel are actively working to speed up these projects.”The statement said the company will consider general business factors such as location, infrastructure, labor force and logistics to make new investment decisions, noting that the European monetary union is one aspect of these factors. “Generally, regarding companies which operate in Europe, a unified currency would reduce currency exchange rate fluctuations and risk and would be a significant advantage.”Sharing a view Okuda expressed Jan. 29, Yoshio Maki, senior research officer for international issues at Fuji Research Institute, said in his recent report that it would be more beneficial for Japanese manufacturers to invest in countries other than Britain or Italy, if the two countries fail to join the monetary union for a long period of time.