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Toyota plants open at half capacity

Associated Press / April 19, 2011

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TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. resumed car production at all of its plants in Japan yesterday for the first time since the March 11 earthquake. The factories will run at half capacity, due to parts shortages.

The world’s number one automaker said it was struggling to secure about 150 types of auto components. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami destroyed parts factories, causing severe shortages.

The twin disasters forced Toyota to shut down in Japan except at three plants, which have been running at limited capacity to produce Prius, Lexus, and Corolla cars.

Toru Kuzuhara, president of the Toyota subsidiary Central Motor Co., which operates the Miyagi plant, said he hoped the resumption of production would help spur reconstruction efforts.

“We will make top-quality cars and deliver them to many customers as early as possible,’’ he said. “I believe this will lead to broader reconstruction efforts in Miyagi.’’

The Miyagi plant, Toyota’s newest auto factory in Japan, began operations in January. Toyota makes Yaris compact sedans in Miyagi for export to North America.

Toyota will keep production at all of its Japanese plants at half capacity until April 27, and then halt output from April 28 to May 9, a period that includes holidays when factories would normally close. The company will resume production in Japan from May 10 to June 3 at half of normal levels. It remains unclear when Toyota will return to full production in Japan.

Honda Motor Co.’s operation in Britain has been running at 50 percent of planned weekly production since April 11 due to shortages of parts supplied from Japan, a cutback expected to last until the end of May. The company announced Friday that it was extending slowdowns at plants in Canada and the United States until at least early May.