TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota has cut 600 workers at its Japanese factories, the company said Tuesday, as it prepares for a drop in local sales when incentives for green cars run out next month.
Toyota Motor Corp. employed a total of 2,400 contract workers at the end of 2010, it said.
Contract workers are hired under different terms from other employees at Toyota, mainly to make it easier to increase or cut the numbers of workers in response to fluctuating demand for cars.
The contract workers are hired for up to two years and 11 months. When their term is up they are either laid off or get new contracts to become regular workers, who get better pay, promotion opportunities and lifetime employment.
Toyota declined to say how many of the 600 became regular workers. It said 160 contract workers were promoted to regular status in the company's last fiscal year ended March 2010.
Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, employs 320,000 people globally and 70,000 of those workers are in Japan.
Toyota's Japan sales have picked up lately because of government-backed incentives for fuel-efficient models like the Prius gasoline-electric hybrid, which has been the top-seller here for 15 months straight.
Automakers fear that sales will nose-dive once the incentives run out. Demand is strong for the time being as buyers rush to dealers to take advantage of discounts.