Toyota is to suspend production at all of its domestic plants for 11 days in February and March in response to a slump in sales.

It will temporarily halt operations at all 12 of its domestic factories in Aichi Prefecture for four weekdays and two Saturdays in February plus three weekdays and two Saturdays in March.

Japanese sales for 2008 were at the lowest level for 34 years, while US sales slumped 15.7% to 2,217,662 vehicles on a daily selling rate basis, the automaker said last night.

"We will suspend the operation of 12 Toyota factories in Japan for 11 more days," a Toyota spokesman told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The automaker had earlier announced three idle days in January.

Toyota has also forecast its first-ever annual operating loss for the current financial year, blaming "an unprecedented crisis" in the global auto industry.

Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe said on Monday he expected demand would turn upward in the second half of the year.

"But I think it will be difficult to go up all at once. The rise will be gradual," he told reporters.

Other major Japanese automakers also plan to stop production lines for a limited period this month.

The company also said it would either delay or review almost all projects aimed at expanding production capacity or building new plants world-wide.