Yesterday, we reported that the Japanese auto industry is recovering faster than previously assumed from the effects of the March 11 tsunami. Overseas factories were expected to be affected for several more months while the problems work themselves through the long supply pipeline from Japan. Much to everybody’s surprise, the situation is improving at a faster clip at transplant factories as well. Toyota said today that North American vehicle production is expected to return to 100 percent in September.
Eight of Toyota’s 12 North American-built models returned to 100 percent production on June 6. The only models where missing parts are slowing down production are the Tacoma, the Tundra, the RAV4, and the Lexus RX 350, explained Toyota U.S.A. spokesperson Tania Saldana. Production of these vehicles will be back at full capacity in September, which puts Toyota’s recovery well ahead of prior estimates. The attentive observer will note that all 4 are trucks. Toyota most likely practiced a little triage and helped those cars first that are needed the most.
“After September we will focus on making-up lost production as much as possible,” said Steve St. Angelo, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, North America.
The second half of the year, and especially Q4 should become very interesting when Japanese manufacturers come out swinging to make tsunami-induced losses go away. Toyota U.S.A. chief Bob Carter is already in full sales mode: “Our dealers have a healthy supply of cars and trucks available to sell, with more arriving every day, along with competitive lease and APR programs for our customers.”