TOKYO (Jan. 6, 2009) — Toyota Motor Corp. will halt production at its Japanese plants for 11 days in February and March as plunging U.S. sales has left dealers' lots full of unsold cars, Reuters reported.
A 37 percent slump in December sales in Toyota's biggest market was its sharpest fall in more than a quarter of a century and worse than declines at U.S. rivals General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.
"I never expected the crisis to spread this fast and leave this deep a scar," Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters at a event in Tokyo hosted by Japan's top business lobbies.
Toyota had already announced a three-day production stoppage for this month at its 12 directly operated Japanese plants — four car assembly plants and eight for engines, transmissions and other components.
A sweeping suspension of domestic production is almost unprecedented. In 1993, Toyota halted output for one day as a strong yen crimped sales.
Japanese-built cars make up around 40 percent of Toyota's volume in the United States, where industrywide sales dropped 18 percent last year to their lowest levels since 1992.
Auto makers across the world are cutting back production as consumers, hit by tight credit, shy away from big-ticket purchases even as companies boost sales incentives.
Domestic rivals Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. have both cut output plans by at least 200,000 vehicles for the year ending March 31, and analysts expect further adjustments before then.
Toyota does not disclose the number of vehicles affected by production stoppages. Together, the four Japanese assembly plants built an average 130,000 vehicles a month in 2007, according to the latest available data. Toyota plans to turn the 11 days in February and March into a paid company holiday, a spokesman said.