Special Coverage

Greater L.A. Auto Show

LOS ANGELES – Because of plans announced Nov. 18 to curb production at all plants in the U.S. and Canada next month, Toyota Motor Corp. will lose some Venza production during the cross/utility vehicle’s launch month.

“We’ll have a couple hundred less (Venzas) than we anticipated for December,” Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.’s Toyota Div. tells Ward’s at the Los Angeles auto show.

Toyota is shutting down its plants for the Christmas holiday Dec. 22, two days earlier than normal. Included in the early closing is Georgetown, KY, where the Venza CUV and Camry and Avalon passenger cars are produced.

However, Carter says the auto maker will make up for the lost Venza output in the first quarter, when it will launch a marketing campaign for the 2-row CUV.

“Those Venzas will come out of the fourth quarter (and) come back in the first quarter,” he says, noting all 8,900 units Toyota will lose by taking down production two extra days next month will be recovered by the end of Q1.

“It’s nothing more than shifting (units to be built) from one quarter to the next,” Carter says. “We do that all the time. I’m surprised this one got as much play as it did.”

Toyota begins shipment of the Venza from Georgetown this Friday, he says.

Meanwhile, Carter calls recent reports out of Japan that Toyota will push back the start date of Prius hybrid-electric vehicle production in Mississippi false.

“Speculation that was printed in some of the Japanese papers about the postponement of Mississippi was purely speculation,” he says. “There’s no decision made at this point.”

Toyota is to begin building the next-generation Prius in Blue Springs, MS, in late 2010. The Nikkei business daily said the auto maker was considering delaying the start of production until 2011 or later in light of the current global economic crisis.

But Toyota has been chronically short of its best-selling HEV on and off for years, and Carter says he needs all the Priuses he can get.

“When I pull the cover off the (next-generation) Prius in January (at the Detroit auto show)…I want them all, and I don’t think I can get enough out of the current manufacturing base.”

However, Carter does reiterate Toyota’s plan, revealed Nov. 6, to review the timing and scale of projects it has announced via a committee headed by TMC President Katsuaki Watanabe.

The Emergency Profit Improvement Committee was formed as Toyota disclosed it was halving its fiscal net income forecast due to the global economic crisis, and surging yen, impacting the auto maker’s profitability.