Toyota to put the brake on US production after sales slump
Toyota will order workers at its US factories to down tools to reflect lower demand for its cars, amid growing political controversy over its safety recalls.
The Japanese firm has suffered a slump in sales since admitting that faulty accelerator pedals in several cars had led to fatal accidents, and that its pioneering hybrid, the Prius, had a problem with its brakes that required some vehicles to be recalled.
The company's president, Akio Toyoda, said yesterday that the car-maker may have grown faster than it should and staff training had fallen behind as a result. "The basic rule of the Toyota production system is to only build as many cars as there is demand for, and we ourselves broke that rule," he said.
The company has already said it expects a 100,000-vehicle hit to global sales before March because of its safety problems, but plans to put production on hold at two US plants for days or weeks at a time suggest that it believes demand could take a while to return. No staff at the plants in Kentucky and Texas will be laid off. They will be required to attend training sessions instead of working on the production line.
The company added yesterday that it would install a system in all its models to ensure that braking always overrides acceleration when both pedals are depressed.
Toyota is facing a growing political storm in the US, as lawmakers plan hearings into whether the company acted quickly enough on information about safety problems. At the same time, additional questions have been raised about its Corolla, the world's best-selling car, and the company and regulators are examining complaints about its steering.
Mr Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota's founder Kiichiro Toyoda, said he believed US managers should testify before a Congressional panel investigating the company's safety problems – not, as some lawmakers have demanded, him personally.
Source: The Independent