Toyota says it is currently studying ways to reorganise its domestic manufacturing operations.
The plans will consolidate the production of similar vehicles, regardless of their brand, across the Toyota group of companies.
Presently, in some cases, Toyota produces a single model at different factories across Japan, but as the company streamlines its manufacturing process, cars of similar construction methodology and size could be built side by side at the one plant. Toyota currently produces vehicles at 17 plants across Japan, including those operated by Daihatsu and Hino.
Toyota’s executive vice president in charge of production, Mr Atsushi Niimi, said there is the potential some assembly lines could be closed as part of the brand’s consolidating efforts.
“We want to decide by summer what order we’ll reorganise the operations,” Mr Niimi said.
He added that jobs cuts are not part of the plan, but that some staff may be relocated if assembly lines were closed.
Mr Niimi also said he expects Toyota’s Japanese domestic production to range between 12,500 and 12,600 units a day “for some time”. The figure is roughly 1000 units fewer than the estimates Toyota gave its suppliers in February. In January this year, Toyota was producing vehicles at the rate of 15,000 a day.
Nimmi said the recall crisis in North America was slowing Toyota sales, while the impact was also being felt in markets including China and Europe.
“It’s difficult to get a good read (on production levels) by looking at the current situation,” said Mr Nimmi. “But we have to be prepared to work at this level.”
Japanese business daily Nikkei, reported that through the increased use of common components among different models, Toyota could trim as much as 100 billion yen (AUD$1.18 billion) off its annual manufacturing costs by 2012. Currently, no official decision has been made as to when the realignment will be made, though Nikkei estimates the transformation would be complete by the end of the decade.