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Published: Tuesday, 4/19/2011

Toyota cuts more North American production


DETROIT — Toyota Motor said on Tuesday that it would cut production at its North American plants by 75 percent in the next six weeks to conserve its limited supply of parts made in Japan.

The plants involved build about 70 percent of the vehicles Toyota sells in North America. As a result, significantly fewer cars — including the Camry and Corolla sedans and the Rav4 crossover — will be available this spring, a prime selling season for the industry.

Toyota said the plants would be closed on Mondays and Fridays through June 3 and would run at half of their normal capacity on Tuesday through Thursday. In addition, the plants will be closed for a week in May, in conjunction with Memorial Day in the United States and Victoria Day in Canada.

‘’We are trying to continue production as much as possible and keep our workforce intact in order to facilitate a smooth transition back to full production when all parts are available,” Steve St. Angelo, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, said in a statement.

None of the 25,000 workers affected will be laid off, Toyota said. The downtime will be used for training and plant improvements.

The cuts affect five assembly plants and eight other locations that build engines or other parts, as well as a line at Subaru’s plant in Indiana that builds Camry sedans. The plants have been shutting down on Mondays and Fridays this month as a result of the parts shortage.

Toyota is already running its 17 plants in Japan at 50 percent of their normal capacity. Most of them reopened last week for the first time since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

‘’This really just reinforces that consumers and dealers haven’t seen the full effects yet of the crisis in terms of inventory and vehicle availability,” Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with the research firm IHS Automotive, said. “The impact will be felt for months to come since production is slowed into June. And there’s a good chance the production won’t suddenly bounce back to 100 percent on June 3.”

Toyota is more affected than other automakers because it builds a larger percentage of its vehicles in Japan.

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