Tokyo: Toyota is hiring 800 contract workers in Japan in its first such job increase in more than a year to keep up with brisk sales of its Prius gas-electric hybrid car, the Japanese automaker said on Tuesday.
Most will start working next month at Toyota Motor Corp.’s Tsutsumi plant, central Japan, which makes the Prius and other models for the Japanese market.
Toyota now employs 1,300 contract workers in Japan. Such workers are hired for limited periods unlike the 70,000 full-time workers in Japan, who are guaranteed “lifetime employment.” Toyota employs more than 300,000 workers worldwide.
Toyota has been struggling since global sales plunged last year. It stopped hiring contract workers in Japan in June last year.
The maker of the Lexus luxury model and Camry sedan racked up its worst loss ever of ¥436.9 billion ($4.6 billion) for the fiscal year ended 31 March. It has projected an even worse fiscal year through March 2010, although analysts are expecting that to be revised to a better forecast now there are signs sales may be picking up.
“The decision to hire the contract employees reflects gradually recovering global auto sales,” said company spokesman Paul Nolasco. “We want to be prepared.”
The Prius was Japan’s best-selling car for the fourth straight month in August. Government incentives and tax breaks helped boost the cars popularity.
The Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, sold 21,669 Prius cars last month, as overall auto sales in Japan rose on-year for the first time in 13 months.