Toyota Motor is experiencing a notable slowing of demand and production in Europe, its local head has said.


Toyota Motor Europe president Tadashi Arashima said on the sidelines of a forum in France that the outlook for 2009 was too volatile to make any forecasts.


“We saw the deterioration for the past two or three months, that is September, October and November, in European markets,” Arashima told Reuters. “We see a softening in the market for smaller cars as well.”


Toyota’s only French car plant in Valenciennes, which makes the Yaris, would build 240,000 cars this year and all would be sold, he added. The full capacity of 270,000 was built – and sold – in 2007.


Toyota, which is launching a redesigned Avensis across Europe, has cut production at the UK plant that builds that model, and the smaller Auris, and last month said it would shut Valenciennes for four days this month and one week in March due to slowing demand.


Asked if Toyota would need further shutdowns, Arashima told Reuters: “The economy and the market are so volatile at the moment, so we are very carefully assessing how the market will develop.”


He also said Toyota reviewing global projects to see which would remain viable under current conditions.


“We are reviewing one by one what are the resources required to complete these projects versus what is the outcome we can get so we are carefully reviewing this not only for Europe but for everywhere,” he said.


He also said likely reductions in capital spend next fiscal year (from 1 April) would have minimal impact on European operations because major projects such as the new Camry factory in St Petersburg were finished.


Arashima also ruled out possible interest in any new automaker acquisitions during the current round of restructuring.


“From Toyota’s point of view I don’t think we will be a part of these acquisitions. I don’t think so,” he told Reuters.