Tokyo: Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. will cut production at three U.S plants in response to slowing sales, hitting a bump on the road to becoming the world’s top automaker. Some 200 temporary workers will lose their jobs as a result of the cutbacks, she said.
“We will slow down assembly lines, reduce operating hours and temporarily suspend production,” the spokeswoman said. The measures were to “cope with slowing sales in North America,” she added.
Sales of automobiles, particularly large vehicles, are slumping in the United States due to soaring fuel prices and slack consumer spending amid a weaker economy and mortgage crisis.
One Toyota plant in Texas that builds Tundra pickup trucks will suspend operations for a total of 14 days by the end of October. Some 200 temporary workers, or 10% of the workforce at the Texas plant’s assembly lines, will not have their contract renewed.
Another plant in Indiana that makes Tundra trucks and Sequoia sport utility vehicles will suspend production for six days by the end of August. An engine plant in Alabama will close for five days by the start of August.
Toyota, poised to overtake General Motors this year as the world’s top selling automaker, had enjoyed brisk sales in recent years in the world’s largest economy.
But with the U.S. market now losing steam, the Japanese group is stepping up its focus on fast-growing markets such as China, India, Russia and Brazil.
The Nikkei economic daily said the U.S. cutbacks would reduce Toyota’s output by slightly more than 10,000 vehicles. Toyota declined to comment on the overall impact on production.
The Japanese giant sold 1.047 million Toyota or Lexus brand vehicles in the United States in the five months to May, down 4% from a year earlier, according to the company’s figures.