The European Investment Bank (EIB) is granting a loan for EUR 175 million(1) (FRF 1.15 billion) to the Toyota Group for construction of a car assembly plant in Onnaing in Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

The project being financed by the EIB centres mainly on a new plant to produce Toyota's "Yaris" compact car. It is expected to create around 2 000 new jobs in the Valenciennes region (Nord-Pas-de-Calais), an Objective 1 regional development area, plus some 500 further jobs at Toyota suppliers in Europe.

The Yaris, hitherto made only in Japan, will in future be produced on the Onnaing site to meet European demand. The present level of Yaris sales corresponds to the new plant's eventual planned capacity of 150 000 units a year, which will thus replace those currently imported from Japan. In addition, over 90% of the components making up the material cost of the cars will be sourced in Europe (from companies such as Bosch, Valéo, Faurecia, Allibert, etc.)

The new facilities have been designed with an eye to safeguarding the environment and will use the latest process innovations introduced on the Yaris production line at Takaoka (a notable feature being the paint-shop's use of water-soluble paint applied through robot-controlled interchangeable cartridges).

With equipment installation at the Onnaing plant now under way, production start-up is planned for early 2001 with full volume output being reached in 2003.

Supporting development of the less advantaged areas and promoting growth, employment and a better environment are priority objectives for the EIB. This is strikingly illustrated by the Bank's collaboration with the motor vehicle sector, particularly in France where the EIB has financed several major projects, notably with the Peugeot, Citroën and Fiat groups. These have included development of small and medium-sized engines, "V6" engines and new automatic gear boxes, production of new multi-purpose vehicle models and installation of water-soluble paint shops.

(1) 1 EUR = 6.55953 FRF; 0.613400 GBP.