Toyota has been expanding its production slowdowns in response to the Japanese earthquake last month. Today, the company announced global production won’t be back to normal until November or December.
Nearly 150 parts that Toyota uses to build its vehicles – mainly electronic, rubber and paint materials — have been impacted by the natural disaster in Japan. Until Toyota can either fully restore production of the parts or find new suppliers we can expect fewer Toyota models at U.S. dealerships.
Toyota has already officially warned its 1,500 dealerships to expect shortages. “The potential exists that supply of new vehicles could be significantly impacted this summer," Toyota's U.S. general manager Bob Carter said.
Over the next several weeks, Toyota’s North American plants will operate at 30% capacity until June 3. Toyota expects North American production to be fully restored by August; about 70% of the vehicles Toyota sells in the U.S. are produced on this continent including the Toyota Camry and Highlander and the Lexus RX. Japanese production is currently operating at 50%; it will be back to normal levels by July. It will take several months to transport the Japanese-produced vehicles to U.S. dealerships. Vehicles like the Toyota Prius and most Lexus and Scion models are built in Japan.
While some assembly plants and parts factories will be idled in North America, Toyota is quick to point out that it has no plans to lay off any of its American workforce during this time.