Toyota will become a full member of the European automotive industry association ACEA starting in January, the lobby group said today.
"We welcome Toyota Motor Europe (TME) in our midst and are convinced TME will make a valuable contribution to the work of our association," ACEA President Sergio Marchionne, who is also Fiat's CEO, said in a statement.
TME, which is already an observer in a number of ACEA working groups, employs some 55,000 people in Europe directly and indirectly and has invested over 6 billion euros ($8.05 billion) here since 1990.
It has five assembly plants that built 808,000 vehicles last year and three parts plants that manufactured 864,000 engines and 564,000 transmissions.
"We now have an important presence in Europe and so joining the European automotive association was the next logical step. We look forward to working more closely with fellow members on the issues confronting the industry," said TME President Tadashi Arashima.
Toyota, which overtook General Motors Corp in global sales in the first quarter, first formally applied for full ACEA membership in 2005, but was kept at arm's length even though companies like GM and Ford based outside Europe were members.
ACEA members have often derided Toyota's hybrid powertrain technology and have repeatedly cried out against the competitive edge it receives from the weak yen.
The current members of ACEA, first established in 1991, provide direct employment to more than 2.3 million people and support another 10 million jobs in related sectors.