Toyota Considers New Production Strategy As World Burns

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Toyota Motor Corp. is reconsidering its existing production strategy, citing ongoing global issues that are hindering its ability to manufacture vehicles at a normal pace.

Like most other automakers, Toyota has endured COVID restrictions, supply chains bottlenecks, component shortages, at least one cyberattack, and some new obstacles stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These issues have already encouraged General Motors to pursue lower output as it focuses on selling on higher-margin vehicles. Though it’s hardly the only automaker signaling diminished production for 2022. Even the National Automobile Dealers Association is assuming 2022 will be another year of extra-tight inventories and wild markups. It’s something the industry was already doing, with Toyota becoming the next company opting to rejigger its targets to account for hard times.

“We need to examine the conditions before us,” Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda explained on Wednesday. “If we do not continue to make sound production plans [as well as our suppliers] this will lead to exhaustion.”

Considering Toyota has already cut its output goal for the fiscal year from 9 million vehicles to 8.5 million, issuing another cut within a few weeks looks pretty bad. But that’s allegedly not what’s happening. According to Chief Human Resources Officer Masanori Kuwata, the company is only seeking to temper its targets for the spring quarter (April-to-June) and would have another update for what that means in the coming days.

I’m skeptical. After forcing staff to work on reduced schedules for the last two years, a lot of automakers have started talking about running leaner. Some have attributed this to their electrification strategy requiring fewer persons on the assembly line. But the general consensus seems to be that layoffs are coming, regardless of whether it being attributed to a crippled economy or some fantastical-sounding business model. My guess is that Toyota’s upcoming meetings will be covering similar territory with Akio coming forward to announce job cuts.

“As the union points out, a production plan that exceeds the capacity of personnel and equipment is abnormal,” Toyoda said earlier in his speech, adding that the automaker was “already at the limit.”

Toyota has already announced that it will be tweaking its management structure for 2022. However, it was fairly optimistic about upping its production targets. Compared to the industry as a whole, Toyota actually weathered the last couple of years rather well and said it was hoping to increase volume going into the spring of 2022. But it’s looking like that strategy is coming off the table.

“We learned firsthand, during times like major recalls, the importance of prioritizing safety and quality above all else and not neglecting the people supporting us on the ground,” Toyoda said. “Together with suppliers and dealers, we want to work together to overcome the current crisis situation.”

[Image: Toyota]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Eggsalad Eggsalad on Mar 10, 2022

    The wealthy elite of the world are trying to milk every last penny from the rest of the population before the worldwide revolution begins.

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Mar 10, 2022

    I guess Toyota can offer the Hilux in flat green, white or dull grey colour. Might be a big hit in Eastern Europe like the tan one's were in the Middle East.

    • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 10, 2022

      Those Hiluxes come in diesel. Shame we can't get them in the US and Canada. They are one tough truck.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.