Production of Toyota's all new Auris has begun at the Japanese car giant's plant in Burnaston, celebrating 20 years of manufacturing in the UK.
The automaker's operations in Britain have expanded greatly in the last two decades, and the decision to build the new hatchback at the Derbyshire factory has been supported by around £185 million of investment.
In addition to the Auris hatchback, the Auris Touring Sports estate car will also be built at the plant from next year.
Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, was present to mark the launch of the new Auris and expressed his "delight" at the Japanese firm's latest investment.
He described the new production as "good news" for the country's supply chain and claimed it would help improve skills and training of workers.
"The automotive industry is one of strategic national importance to the UK," said Dr Cable.
"The Automotive Council demonstrates how Government and business can work together to help promote manufacturing and growth. We want to develop this sort of partnership in more key sectors as part of our industrial strategy."
Toyota has invested more than £2.1 billion since it started manufacturing in the UK back in 1992, and this latest project will also boost employment.
A total of 800 temporary workers have already been recruited by Toyota Motor UK (TMUK), all of which have been offered production apprenticeships at the company.
"This is a great day for TMUK," said Tony Walker, TMUK deputy managing director.
Mr Walker said Toyota's investment in the plant was a vote of confidence in what the UK workforce could deliver.
He declared that the start of new Auris production at Burnaston was a testimony to the achievements of its members in helping to create one of the best manufacturing centres in the world.
Didier Leroy, President and CEO Toyota Motor Europe, said the move emphasised the importance of the UK in the company's strategy for vehicle and engine production in Europe.
He said that Toyota chose the UK as the location for its first manufacturing centre in Europe 20 years ago and had regularly made significant investments to develop TMUK's operations and expand its capabilities.
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