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Toyota Domestic Output Expected To Hit 31-Year Low

Automaker expects vehicle production in Japan to fall to below 3 million for the first time in 31 years, and below the level needed to maintain its full-time workforce, a report said.

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. expects its vehicle production in Japan to fall to the lowest in more than three decades this fiscal year, and below the level needed to maintain its full-time workforce, a report said Tuesday.

Toyota sees the production of 3 million vehicles as necessary to maintain its full-time work force in Japan of about 69,400. But its output is projected to be only 2.8 million units in the fiscal year through March 2010 -- which would be the first time below 3 million in 31 years, Japan's top-selling Yomiuri newspaper said.

The company will have difficulty maintaining all full-time workers and may need to make some cuts, the daily reported, though it quoted one unnamed executive as saying the company would not cut the workforce at the moment.

Toyota has not laid off full-time workers since 1950. The paper also said Toyota's global output this year will likely stay at 6.2 million units.

The company declined to comment on the report.

"We have yet to forecast our sales and production data for the fiscal 2009," said Toyota spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi.

To cope with faltering demand worldwide, the Japanese auto giant will continue to trim production by shortening working hours rather than suspending plant operations, the Yomiuri daily said.

Hit by plummeting sales, especially in the U.S., Toyota expects to incur a net loss of 350 billion yen ($3.6 billion ) for the fiscal year ended March 2009.

The dismal forecast -- the first annual net loss since 1950 -- is a huge reversal from Toyota's record 1.72 trillion yen profit in the previous fiscal year. A strong yen also hurts Toyota as it erodes the company's overseas earnings. Toyota will release its earnings report on May 8.

Toyota's global production in February tumbled 49.6 percent from a year earlier to 434,179 vehicles, underlining a prolonged slump in the worldwide auto market. Its domestic output for the month nose-dived 56.4 percent year-on-year to 207,743 vehicles.

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