Prius factory to restart, Honda extends shutdown

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. said it will soon resume production of the Prius and two other hybrid models while rival Honda Motor Co. has extended its Japan auto shutdown until early April in the aftermath of the massive quake and tsunami.

Toyota, the world's No. 1 automaker, plans to restart production of the Prius and two Lexus hybrids — the HS 250h and CT 200h — beginning Monday. The Prius is made at the Tsutsumi factory in western Japan, while the Lexus models are produced in the southern island of Kyushu.

As for the company's nine other factories in Japan, Toyota has only said shutdowns will last at least until Saturday. It will have lost production of about 140,000 vehicles by then.

Separately, Honda said today that the suspension of car production at its Saitama and Suzuka factories will be extended to April 3. It had previously said production was halted until Sunday. It is restarting production of motorcycles at its Kumamoto factory on Monday.

Japanese automakers suspended production after the March 11 earthquake due to damage to suppliers' factories in northeastern Japan and power shortages.


Toyota revealed earlier today that it expects to halt production at some of its factories in North America because of shortages of parts from Japan. Toyota's move in the U.S. adds to the spreading economic damage from the magnitude-9.0 quake and tsunami that killed thousands of people and triggered an unfolding nuclear crisis at a stricken power plant.

In a statement released in New York, Toyota said it was unclear which North American facilities will be affected or how long the suspension might last. It gave no indication how many employees might be affected.

The company said the impact should be limited because a majority of parts used by its North American factories came from suppliers there. It said the facilities are still receiving parts from Japan that were sent before the quake.

"Today, we communicated to team members, associates and dealers here that some production interruptions in North America are likely," the Toyota statement said. "It's too early to predict location or duration."

Toyota made about 8.5 million vehicles in 2010, including about four million in Japan. About half the vehicles made in Japan were exported. But nearly 70 percent of Toyotas sold in the U.S. are made in its 13 plants in North America.

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