A top Toyota boss has called for urgent progress on Brexit talks amid mounting fears export tariffs will hit profits after Britain leaves the EU.
Toyota executive Marvin Cooke says uncertainty over the UK's future trading relationships with Europe was 'unhelpful' for the car firm.
Mr Cooke, managing director for Toyota Motor Manufacturing at Burnaston, has appealed for "quicker" progress on Brexit to ease uncertainty for exporters to the EU.
Last month, the Japanese car-maker's executive vice-president Didier Leroy made a similar plea to the Government, claiming conjecture over the UK’s post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU was hindering its ability to plan for the future at Burnaston.
The Derbyshire plant, which next month marks 25 years of production, currently makes the Auris and Avensis, and around 85 per cent of its output is exported to mainland Europe tariff-free.
There is a fear that once Britain exits the European Union, UK car factories such as Toyota will have to pay a levy of ten per cent on their exports, potentially damaging their competitiveness.
In his role, Mr Cooke has responsibility for the Burnaston plant and the firm’s engine-making factory at Deeside, North Wales.
He told our sister title, the Derby Telegraph: "We've been very open in saying that the Government has a responsibility to provide a business environment in which the automotive sector can be continuously competitive.
"Free trade, smooth customs and harmonised regulation are things that we are discussing with the Government, like the industry broadly.
"I'm not one to judge the speed of these negotiations but uncertainty is not helpful. I'd like progress to be quicker to reduce this uncertainty."
Earlier this year, Toyota announced it would be investing £240 million in Burnaston, where it makes around 180,000 cars a year, to improve production processes.
It is introducing the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform – a new method of building cars involving standardising engines and components across models. Toyota has said the move will help make Burnaston more competitive.
Mr Cooke said: "In the short-term nothing has changed. In the medium-term we're investing here for the TNGA platform, which will contribute towards our competitiveness and environmental performance.
"The TNGA investment is one significant step to support our competitiveness on top of the activities we're doing in the plant, engaging all of our members here.
"It will allow the plant to produce vehicles in the future on Toyota's new global architecture. Beyond that it's too early to say. The future decisions are not being made now beyond that.
"Toyota supports its people and its operations wherever they are in the world - but we have to be competitive and that is what we're continuously working on here.
"We've been here 25 years and we're determined to be here for the next 25. We're very proud to be in the UK."
This week, representatives from the UK car industry gave evidence to the Business Select Committee about the potential impact on the sector if the UK fails to strike a Brexit deal with the EU.
Among them was Mark Wilson, finance chief at Aston Martin, which makes its cars exclusively in Britain. He warned that it might have to halt production if the right deal was not struck.
And Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, of which Toyota is a member, said the UK motor industry’s integration into European supply chains could make it harder to benefit from any free trade agreement with non-EU countries following Brexit.
Free trade agreements stipulate that about 60 per cent of goods must originate from within the countries making the agreement.
Mr Hawes said: "The average car made in the UK has 44 per cent of its components from UK suppliers.
"How much of that 44 per cent actually comes from the UK, bearing in mind those suppliers are buying in supply chains from all over the world?
"The figure is more like 25 per cent, which is a long way from the 60 per cent threshold you would need to qualify for a free trade agreement."
But he added that this could be overcome through a 'cumulation' agreement with the EU. That would allow EU content to count as being of UK origin and vice-versa - but would need to be part of the Brexit trade deal.