Akio Toyoda
Koji Sasahara  /  AP
Toyota’s President Akio Toyoda said Friday its global car production, disrupted by parts shortages from Japan's earthquake and tsunami, won't return to normal until November or December, threatening its spot as the world's top-selling automaker.
By
updated 4/22/2011 3:34:02 PM ET 2011-04-22T19:34:02

Toyota's global car production, disrupted by parts shortages from Japan's earthquake and tsunami, won't return to normal until November or December — imperiling its spot as the world's top-selling automaker.

President Akio Toyoda apologized to customers for the delays due to the March 11 disasters that damaged suppliers in northeastern Japan, affecting automakers around the world.

"To all the customers who made the decision to buy a vehicle made by us, I sincerely apologize for the enormous delay in delivery," Toyoda said at a news conference in Tokyo.

Toyota Motor Corp. earlier said it has suffered a production loss of 260,000 cars. Earlier this week, it resumed car production at all of its plants in Japan for the first time since the quake, but the factories are running at half capacity due to the parts shortages. Japanese manufacturers are also grappling with power shortages.

Aftershocks from the magnitude 9.0 quake have slowed progress, Toyoda said.

"We've seen some of the recovery work set back to square one many, many times," he said.

The setbacks could cost Toyota its top position in the global auto industry.

Last year, Toyota sold 8.42 million vehicles, barely keeping its lead over a resurgent General Motors Co., which sold 8.39 million, thanks to booming sales in China. Given Toyota's production woes, GM could reclaim the title of world's largest automaker that it lost in 2008.

Adding to those worries, customers in some overseas markets are raising questions over possible radiation contamination of exported vehicles due to radiation leaks at a tsunami-damaged nuclear plant in northern Japan's Fukushima prefecture (state).

In response to that concern, Japanese automakers have begun checking radiation levels on some cars and tires before shipment.

"We want to erase their worries by taking this measure," said Hirokazu Furukawa, a spokesman for the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. He noted that no radiation has been detected on cars bound for overseas markets so far.

Toyoda and other Toyota executives said normal production for some vehicles inside Japan could resume by July, with normal output beginning to be restored by August overseas. But it will take until late in the year for the company to bring its production lines back to full capacity for all models.

Story: Shanghai, NYC car shows are at an intersection
  1. More must-see stories
    1. The Hartford Courant, Political
      Wild Wall St.

      Has the market volatility got you nervous? These cartoons may give you a little comic relief.

    2. Cyber-thieves create fake Kelley Blue Book site
    3. US says Reebok toning shoes don't really
    4. Can you live on $9 an hour? Play the game

"In November or December means that all lines and all models will go back to normal and we will be able to receive orders and make deliveries as usual," Toyoda said.

The company would not provide details on which vehicles might become fully available first. The announcement Friday was meant to facilitate dealers' discussions with customers, Toyoda said.

"Even if it is only the timing we can share with others ... we may be able to deal better with people working on the front lines," he said. "Dealers cannot discuss deliveries or any other specifics and they are having a hard time right now."

Life Inc.: Ride for the rich at N.Y. auto show

The parts crunch has been felt around the world, from Malaysia to Europe to the United States. Nissan Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co. have said several North American plants would be closed for some of April, and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said his company will see disruptions.

Toyota has extended production cuts at its North American factories into early June, a move that will likely result in widespread model shortages. Its factories in China are operating at 50 percent capacity, and production at three Thailand plants is being cut by 70 percent.

The company has pledged not to lay off any of its 25,000 workers in North America and says it will use the extra time for training to make improvements at its 13 factories in the region.

The disaster has left Toyota and other Japanese manufacturers who pride themselves on just-in-time efficiency in an awkward bind.

Toyota executives say that while the industry's supply chains were designed out of necessity to maximize competitiveness, the company might consider ensuring that its plants have alternative suppliers or that each region is relatively self-sufficient.

"I don't want to think about this, but we are in an earthquake-prone country, so we will have to give serious consideration to what we will do in the future," said Shinichi Sasaki, an executive vice president.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: New York auto show

loading photos...
  1. A model stands next to a Chrysler 300 S on display at the 2011 New York auto show in New York City. Held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, the show is open to the public from Friday, April 22 through Sunday, May 1. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Gene Simmons (right), Eric Singer (center) and Tommy Thayer of the band Kiss appear on stage at the Mini news conference at the 2011 New York auto show. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Saab PhoeniX concept car is displayed during the 2011 New York auto show. The vehicle showcases design features and technologies which will shape the next generation of cars from Saab, the automaker says. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Scion Vice President Jack Hollis walks around the Scion FRS-S concept car at the 2011 New York auto show. Toyota is taking its youth-oriented Scion division — known for the boxy xB — in a new direction with the sexy, rear-wheel-drive sports car. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is polished as it sits on display at the 2011 New York auto show. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The new Volkswagen Bulli on display at the 2011 New York auto show. VW has resurrected its iconic microbus, which debuted in 1950 and became a favorite of hippies for its unique styling and copious space for travelers. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. The Toyota Prius c concept car is shown during the press preview to the 2011 New York auto show. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Members of the press gather around the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman during the 2011 New York auto show. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. The Lexus LF-Gh hybrid concept car is unveiled at a press event on the eve of the 2011 New York auto show. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The 2012 Ford Focus, which boasts 40 mpg, is shown on the floor of the 2011 New York auto show. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. The front light of a Boxster S Porsche is shown at the 2011 New York auto show. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The 2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe makes its official debut at the 2011 New York auto show. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel introduces the 2012 Honda Civic lineup at the 2011 New York show. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. The Mercedes-Benz A Class concept car is seen on display at the 2011 New York auto show. (Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC is shown at the 2011 New York auto show. The car uses a production Nisan LEAF electric powertrain wrapped in a unique two-door carbon fiber body with removable front and rear sections and a large adjustable rear wing. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Members of the automotive press inspect the new 2012 Honda Civic Si at a press event during the 2011 New York auto show. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. The 2011 Suzuki Kizashi on display during the 2011 New York auto show. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A worker cleans the mirrors covering a Smart Electric Drive -- a battery-electric version of the Smart Fortwo micro car -- during the 2011 New York auto show. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image: Model next to Chrysler 300 S on display at New York International Auto Show
    Mike Segar / Reuters
    Above: Slideshow (18) Cars that rocked the Big Apple - New York auto show
  2. Image:
    Eugene Hoshiko / AP
    Slideshow (23) Cars that rocked the Big Apple - Shanghai auto show

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 5.09%
$30K home equity loan FICO 5.21%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.67%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.34%
13.34%
Cash Back Cards 17.82%
17.82%
Rewards Cards 17.07%
17.07%
Source: Bankrate.com