Toyota slashes production on pandemic-related parts shortage

TOKYO — Toyota is scaling its production back 40%, affecting 14 auto assembly plants in Japan, as the surging coronavirus pandemic in Southeast Asia crimps parts supplies.

Japan’s top automaker said today production will halt completely next month at some plants and partly at others, affecting a wide range of models, including the Corolla subcompact, Prius hybrid and Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle.

Global production for September will decline by 360,000 vehicles, according to Toyota Motor Corp. But it stuck to its annual forecast to produce 9.3 million vehicles, as coronavirus risks were figured in.

Of the lost production, 140,000 vehicles are for Japan and 220,000 for overseas, with 80,000 in the U.S., 40,000 in Europe, 80,000 in China, 8,000 in the rest of Asia and about 10,000 in other regions.

The move follows smaller production halts announced for this month and July.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers and suppliers due to these changes,” Toyota said in a statement.

A shortage of computer chips, which are used widely in vehicles, began earlier because of the pandemic and has hurt auto production, including at Toyota, although it was less affected than many other automakers.

David Leggett, auto analyst at GlobalData, said auto demand was down in Vietnam, and sales have already been hurt in some markets for all manufacturers.

“The pandemic is clearly far from over and appears, as far as the auto industry’s recovery path is concerned, to have a sting in the tail,” he said.

Toyota has held up relatively well amid the pandemic, racking up a record profit for the April-June quarter at about $8 billion, an increase of more than fivefold from the same period the previous year.