JAPAN EARTHQUAKE: Toyota slows European output image

Toyota Motor Corp. will scale back vehicle production in Europe this month and next because of components shortages, the company said today.

The world’s largest automaker will build vehicles at “significantly reduced levels,” Bob Carter, group vice president of U.S. sales, said in a memorandum to dealers. While Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. reported mostly minor damage at Japanese plants from the March 11 disaster, all three cut output in Japan and abroad as they rebuild stockpiles of parts from suppliers whose operations were disrupted.

“Even if the supply chain has not yet been interrupted, short-term parts shortages are foreseeable,” the company said.

The announcement of stoppages in Europe comes just days after Toyota decided last Friday to idle production in Japan of vehicles and parts from late April to early May after operating for two weeks from April 18. The spreading disruption at factories overseas will further delay Toyota shipments of parts supplies from Japan for the North American plants.

Toyota is trying to schedule the shutdowns around school and public holidays, which are numerous in Europe in May.

No decision has yet been made regarding European production beyond May, the company said.
At this stage, the outlook for Toyota’s worldwide production is uncertain beyond May.

In Japan, Toyota is currently shutting down output except at three plants, which are running at limited capacity.
Toyota said it suffered a production loss of 260,000 cars in Japan from March 14 to April 8 alone. The disasters also cost production losses of 50,000 cars in Europe and 35,000 cars in North America.