Toyota is planning to stop production at all of its Japanese plants for eleven days in February and March because of a slump in sales. That comes on top of a three-day production halt already announced for this month. Toyota’s boss Katsuaki Watanabe said that he “never expected the crisis to spread this fast and have this deep an impact.” He added: “The world market is currently contracting and that is the environment we have to operate in, so new plant expansion is just not possible right now.”
In 2006 Toyota sold 8.82 million vehicles, in 2007 that rose to 9.37 million, but for the 2008 financial year that ends in March the prediction is for a 19 percent fall to 7.54 million. Toyota’s sales in Japan slid 18 percent in December, but the company has really been hit by the recession in the United States where showrooms are full of unsold cars. The US is Toyota’s biggest market and it suffered a 37 percent slump in sales in December. That was its sharpest fall in more than a quarter of a century and worse than declines at its struggling US rivals, General Motors and Ford.