Toyota Seen Idling North American Plants in April

After the quake, parts shortages hindering production of cars, light trucks

According to several sources, Toyota Motor Corp. will have to idle all of its North American manufacturing operations for some period of time, beginning this month, as a result of parts shortages following damage to its Japanes plants. The March 11 earthquake and tidal wave did extensive damage to Toyota’s Japanese operations, hindering output of vehicles and parts by Toyota and other automotive OEMs there.

The North American shutdown is seen as a temporary measure. A company spokesman, Mike Goss, told the Associate Press that the idlings would affect 25,000 workers but that employee layoffs are not expected. The spokesman did not estimate how long the idlings would continue.

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, the automaker’s business unit in North America, operates plants in 10 states and Mexico, producing engines and other critical systems, as well as a cars and light trucks.

The North American plants have been using parts from inventory or relying on those that were shipped before the earthquake, Goss noted. But those supplies are running low. The automaker sources only 15% of the parts needed for its North American operations, mostly electronic systems and paint pigments, but scheduled deliveries have been seriously impacted by the problems at the Japanese plants.

Alternative supply sources for the affected parts are being explored.

All Toyota and Lexus models made in North America will be affected by the plant idlings.

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