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Report: Toyota to halve Japan vehicle output
By TOMOKO A. HOSAKA
Associated Press
2009-01-17 04:56 PM
In yet another sign of Japanese automakers' deepening distress, Toyota Motor Corp. between February and April plans to make just half the number of vehicles it produced the previous year, a major newspaper reported Saturday.

Japan's top carmaker will slash production during the period to about 9,000 vehicles a day and may need to trim its full-time work force as a result, the Asahi Shimbun said without citing sources.

Japan's automakers have so far managed to avoid layoffs of regular employees by instead cutting nearly all of their temporary assembly line workers.

Toyota representatives were unavailable for comment Saturday.

The news adds to an already dire outlook for Toyota and other Japanese automakers, who are reeling from plunging demand in key markets like the U.S. as well as a stronger yen. Appreciation of the Japanese currency reduces the value of overseas profits.

"Even emerging nations' sales entered negative territory in October, and we think an increasing number of countries will see year-on-year declines in 2009," said Goldman Sachs auto analysts Kota Yuzawa and Yukihiro Koike in a report Friday.

Toyota, which expects its first operating loss in 70 years for the fiscal year through March, said earlier this week that it would make further production cuts in North America to cope with slumping sales and high inventories.

The company had initially planned to produce 4.21 million vehicles in Japan for the current fiscal year, but trimmed its projection to 3.85 million.

On Friday, rival Honda Motor Co. said it was cutting 3,100 temporary workers and lowering output by 56,000 vehicles in Japan and 17,000 vehicles in Europe for the fiscal year through March.

Nissan Motor Co. said this week it was reducing domestic production by another 64,000 vehicles in February and March. And starting 2010, Japan's No. 3 carmaker plans to shift some production of its top-selling compact, the March and counterpart Micra model, to India, Thailand and other lower-cost countries from Britain and Japan.

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