Toyota could cease car production in the UK if the Department for Transport decides to bring forward the 2035 target for phasing out hybrid-powered vehicles.
The vehicle manufacturer, which builds self-charging hybrids at its Burnaston assembly plant in Derbyshire and engines at its factory in Deeside, Wales, is understood to be concerned that the UK Government may demand high levels of zero emission new car sales ahead of the 2035 deadline.
The Daily Telegraph reports that it has seen internal documents from Toyota which highlight the threat to its factories.
"If the Government adopts an SZEC (significant zero emissions capability) requirement that causes an early end to the sale of new full hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales in 2030 there would be an impact on a number of areas," states the document.
Toyota Burnaston, which opened in 1992, currently produces the Corolla hybrid car.
Toyota's battery electric cars, badged BZ (beyond zero) models, are currently built in Japan however the manufacturer has pledged to offer 30 battery electric vehicles by 2030 globally and achieve sales of 3.5m annually from its total 10m sales worldwide.
In 2024 the UK Government is expected to introduce a zero emission vehicle mandate for the motor retail industry, which will require vehicle manufacturers to register a certain amount of zero-emission cars and vans, such as battery electric vehicles, in increasing levels each year ahead of the 2035 deadline.
The mandate will run alongside the requirement to reduce average CO2, but will compel car makers to sell EVs and, for lower credits, plug-in hybrids, to help avoid a cliff edge in 2030 when new cars sold must have "significant zero emission capability", effectively being either hybrids or zero emissions.
The annual targets requiring a percentage of manufacturers’ new cars and vans sales to be zero emission from 2024 have been deferred pending the conclusions of a technical consultation on zero emission vehicle mandate policy design this summer.
However the DfT's initial preference at the start of the consultation indicated it expected that by 2030 at least 80% of new cars and 52% of new vans sold that year should have zero emissions.
In response to the Daily Telegraph's report, the carmaker said it is "focused on achieving a long term and sustainable future, including for our UK plants, as we move towards our ultimate goal of securing carbon neutral operations in 2035".
And the DFT said: "Vehicle manufacturers and supply chains play a vital role in the transition to cleaner vehicles and we continue to work closely with the industry to help shape future regulations."
Earlier this year Toyota denied the mandate risked the end of its UK presence, adding: “Wherever we operate, our philosophy is to always abide by the emission regulatory standards set by governments.
"We've never missed a European CO2 target, making Toyota a leader among major automotive companies.”