Thu, May 12, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Toyota quarterly profit slides on quake disruption

AP, TOKYO

Toyota’s quarterly profit crumbled more than 75 percent after the March earthquake and tsunami wiped out parts suppliers in northeastern Japan, severely disrupting car production.

The maker of the popular Prius hybrid gave no forecast for the current fiscal year through March 2012, citing an uncertain outlook because production continues to be hampered by shortages of parts. Toyota is expected to lose its spot as the world’s top-selling automaker to General Motors Co this year because of the disasters.

Toyota Motor Corp reported yesterday that January-March profit slid to ¥25.4 billion (US$314 million) from ¥112.2 billion a year earlier. However, for the fiscal year ended March 2011, Toyota reported that earnings doubled, showing that the Japanese automaker had been on the way to recovery from its recall crisis when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck on March 11.

However, Toyota also said efforts to fix production, including using other plants and finding replacement parts, was going better than initially expected, with car manufacturing expected to gradually pick up in Japan and abroad from next month.

Toyota earlier said production improvements wouldn’t start in Japan until about July and overseas in August, with a full recovery not expected until late this year.

“Our priority is to get our production back to normal and recover from the disaster,” Toyota president Akio Toyoda told reporters.

When a full recovery would come was still unknown, he said.

Toyoda said the automaker was still missing about 30 types of parts, although that was an improvement from the 150 it had lacked before. Toyota hopes to be producing at 70 percent of its pre-quake levels by next month.

The automaker’s full-year results highlight how, when the quake struck, Toyota had been on its way to a recovery from the recall fiasco, affecting 14 million vehicles worldwide, which had battered its reputation for quality.

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