Toyota to Slow North American Production, New Prius MPV Delayed

None of Toyota's North American plants have been affected by Japan's recent earthquake, but they may soon feel the impact. Toyota's supply chain of Japanese components may soon run dry, creating a ripple effect that could idle several plants on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

Toyota recently announced to its North American workforce of looming parts shortages as a result of Japan's earthquake, and will be forced to idle plants as it monitors the situation.

"We have an ample supply of most products, our ships continue to deliver vehicles to North America, we have reopened our parts plants in Japan, and we are doing all we can to ensure our dealers have products available for customers," Toyota said in a statement to its factory workers.

Despite several Toyota models being produced on North America soil, many still contain at least 10 percent of their parts from Japan; company officials point to electronics components and rubber products as the parts that will be affected. The automaker informed its workers that stoppages and slow-downs are likely to come in the near future, but none are planned as all locations have no reported shortages.

As reported earlier this week, Toyota idled several Japanese plants as it continues to assess damages and any logistical issues that may affect operations. The automaker announced plans to potentially resume production at many locations as early as March 26th. Now two weeks after the disaster in Japan, Toyota reports its domestic production losses will total no less than 140,000 units, with that number likely to increase greatly because of the parts shortages. Toyota confirmed today plans to resume production of its Prius and Lexus HS 200h and CT 200h models this coming Monday, March 28th.

Aside from existing model production disruptions, the domestic launch of Toyota's new Prius MPV has now been delayed. Initially scheduled for an April debut in Japan, the automaker hasn't announced the new model's new timeline. Debuting at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, the U.S.-market five-seat Prius V's mid-summer roll out isn't expected to be affected. A seven-passenger variant headed to European markets, under the Prius+ name, isn't likely to be delayed either.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required) 1, 2, Detroit News

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