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GM may replace production-hit Toyota as No 1 automaker

autos Updated: Apr 23, 2011 11:41 IST
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Toyota Motor Corp. said on Friday that it may take it till December to restore normal production of all its models because of parts shortage caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

After the automaker's announcement, some market analysts said Toyota stands to lose heavily in the North American market where auto sales have increased 17% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2010.

They said that if car sales keep up the momentum and Toyota cannot restore its normal production, General Motors may replace the Japanese car giant as the world's number one automaker.

Toyota had overtaken General Motors in 2007 to become the world's largest auto company.

Apologizing for supply disruptions to his customers around the world, Toyota president Akio Toyoda said at a press conference in Japan Friday, "To all the customers who made the decision to buy a vehicle made by us, I sincerely apologize for the enormous delay in delivery."

According to a Toyota press release, its "global production will begin to ramp up as soon as July in Japan and August in North America, with all models back to normal production by November or December."

Toyota said its plants in Japan are currently operating only at 50% of capacity and those in North America at 30% of capacity because of the parts shortage.

The automaker said shortage of about 150 electronic, rubber and paint-related parts is affecting vehicle production, adding that it was considering substitute parts from other suppliers to get back to normal production.

Toyota sources about 85% of the parts and materials for its 12 North American-built Toyota and Lexus models from 500 local suppliers, but it still imports some crucial components from Japan.

"Our entire company is committed to solving the problems before us so that we can achieve production recovery even one day sooner," the Toyota president said.