Toyota sees output levels back on track from July

Toyota sees output levels back on track from July

Toyota City (Japan): Toyota Motor Corp is on track to raise overall production volumes starting in July to levels planned before the 11 March earthquake, president Akio Toyoda said on Friday.

The world’s biggest automaker still expects output of all models on all assembly lines to fully return to normal in November, but will be able to build more of certain cars to make up for ongoing disruption in other models, it said.

“We’re expecting to return to levels that were planned at the beginning of the year from July onwards, and aim to keep global sales volumes roughly equal to last year despite intensifying global competition," Toyoda told shareholders at the firm’s annual general meeting.

Toyota said last week it expected global production to rise by 48,000 vehicles to 7.390 million in the business year to next 31 March, with plans to boost output from the October-March second half to offset production lost due to disruption to supply chains. It forecast a 0.9% fall in global shipments to 7.24 million vehicles.

Some markets will lag others in recovering to 100% of planned volumes, a Toyota spokesman said. In North America those levels will be reached in September, around two months behind Japan, Toyota said on Thursday.

Toyota last week forecast a bigger-than-expected 35% fall in operating profit to ¥300 billion ($3.72 billion) for the business year to next 31 March, as its exports from Japan lose money under a stronger yen.

Pressure is mounting on Toyota to rethink its disproportionately large manufacturing presence in Japan as the dollar trades around ¥80 -- far lower than its breakeven threshold of ¥85. Toyota plans to build about 40% of its vehicles in Japan this year, compared with about a quarter at Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co.

During the two-hour general meeting on Friday, however, several shareholders called on Toyota to continue protecting jobs in Japan and contribute to the country’s economy as it struggles to recover from the historic disasters.

“The conditions have become extremely tough for domestic production, but we want to protect Japanese manufacturing as much as possible," executive vice president Atsushi Niimi said.