VOA Breaking News (Voice of America)
April 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm UTC
Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, says that disruptions at its parts suppliers caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan will sharply curtail its worldwide production of vehicles for much of the rest of the year.
The automaker's president, Akio Toyoda, said Friday that about 150 parts used in making new vehicles — mostly materials with rubber and plastic — are still in critically short supply six weeks after the twin natural disasters devastated Japan's northeastern region.
He said the damage has severely hobbled, in his words, “the whole of Japan and all businesses.”
He said the firm's Japanese operations would remain at about 50 percent of their normal pace through July, with production outside of Japan at 40 percent through August. He said full global production would not resume until November at the earliest, but likely return to normal by December.
Two of Toyota's competitors, Honda and Nissan, have also been forced to cut their production as the parts' manufacturers slowly attempt to recover from disruptions in their operations.
Toyota had hoped to produce 7.7 million vehicles this year, but already expects that figure will be reduced by 500,000 vehicles by the end of April. The company declined to estimate how much production would be cut by the end of the year.
Toyota said that many of the 150 parts now in short supply were made to exacting specifications for the company, making it difficult to obtain them on short notice from other producers. Still, the total is down from 500 in mid-March shortly after the natural disasters.
Toyota's North American manufacturing operations have been severely cut. Plants have been closed on Mondays and Fridays and only run at a 50 percent pace on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Operations in China have been trimmed to 50 percent of normal levels and may soon be cut further to 30 percent through the first part of June.
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