Nissan has cut production at its Tochigi factory by 50% because of slow Infiniti sales in North America and the strength of the Japanese yen.

The carmaker has notified parts suppliers about the planned reduction at the factory which assembles Infiniti models, saying the move is only temporary. April production is scheduled to be just 10% lower year on year.

The luxury vehicle market in North America has been hit by rising petrol prices [up to US$5 a gallon was noted in LA this week - ed] and increased competition from German carmakers. US sales of the Infiniti G35 declined 11% year on year in January while the M35 and M45 models fell 24%, according to Autodata.

The strong yen has also eroded export profit margins. By temporarily trimming production, Nissan aims to adjust inventory and curb unnecessary cash outflows, especially as the 31 March fiscal year end approaches.

Tochigi has an annual capacity of 220,000 vehicles and also makes Nissan GT-R plus other midsize and large luxury cars.