The temporary shutdowns are likely to take place later this month, affecting 25,000 workers, but no layoffs are expected, spokesman Mike Goss said. Just how long the shutdowns last or whether all 13 of Toyota's factories will be affected at the same time is unknown.
So far, the North American plants have been using parts in their inventory or relying on those that were shipped before the earthquake, Goss noted. Those supplies are running low.
"We're going to get to a point this month where that gap in the pipeline starts to show up. So we'll have to suspend production for a while," he said.
A March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged auto parts plants in northeastern Japan. Japan's daily auto output has fallen by more than 500,000 vehicles since the disaster, said Scotiabank Senior Economist Carlos Gomes. Some manufacturers are bringing plants back on line, but only at low speeds because of a lack of parts.
Shortages of parts from Japan are also affecting manufacturers outside the country. Last week, Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. said that several North American plants would be closed for part of this month, and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said his company will see disruptions.