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May 12, 2008

JAPAN: Toyota delays US plant start

Toyota has delayed the start of production at a new US assembly plant due to concerns at falling vehicle sales and the economic slow-down.

Toyota has delayed the start of production at a new US assembly plant due to concerns at falling vehicle sales and the economic slow-down.

Toyota executive vice president Mitsuo Kinoshita on Monday told the Associated Press (AP) in Japan that the plant being built in Blue Springs, Mississippi, was initially set to be operating by late 2009 or early 2010 but hat has now been postponed to mid-2010.

“We made adjustments within a certain range of time,” he told AP. “The change wasn’t that critical.”

AP said Toyota is seeing trouble ahead because of an expected decline in US sales and a weak dollar that will erode the value of its overseas earnings.

Last week, the automaker forecast that, for the financial year ending 31 March 2009, its annual sales would drop for the first time in nine years and that its profit would decline for the first time in seven years, the Associated Press noted.

The news agency said other Toyota executives expressed some worries about the home Japanese market, which has been stagnant for years, and said they hoped to attract a wider age range with new luxury minivan models, which bring in bigger profits than smaller models.

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