Toyota says output to return to normal in November or December

Features Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> said it expects its production to make a full recovery by November or December, around nine months after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's northeast and disrupted the supply of key auto parts.

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Toyota, the world's largest automaker, said production would start to normalize in July in Japan and around August at overseas operations, depending on the model and region, with a complete recovery to come by the end of the year.

Toyota and other Japanese automakers have been hit hard by disruptions to supplies of mostly electronic and resin-based parts made in Japan's northeast, hit on March 11 by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and a tsunami towering more than 10 meters.

"With this many aftershocks, including one last night, we've seen some of the recovery work thrown back to square one many, many times," President Akio Toyoda told a news conference.

"In that sense it's difficult to say what the impact on production volumes or earnings will be."

Toyota has announced plans for production cuts in Japan, North America and China through June 3, and in Europe through the end of May. It has said it would decide on plans beyond that as it gets updates on parts availability.

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It has also been encouraging suppliers to consider setting up more production sites overseas to diversify risk.

The news from Renesas, which has a 40 percent market share in automotive microcontroller chips, pushed Japanese auto stocks sharply higher, reversing earlier losses.

Toyota ended up 3.1 percent, while Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> put on 3.6 percent and Honda Motor Co <7267.T> gained 2.3 percent.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Writing by Nathan Layne; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Edwina Gibbs)