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Toyota to delay US auto plant opening
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2008-05-13 14:00

A senior Toyota executive said yesterday that the company's plans for a new car-assembly plant in Mississippi are being delayed by the credit crisis in the US and concerns about American auto sales.

The vehicle assembly plant being built in Blue Springs, near Tupelo, Mississippi, was initially supposed to be up and running by late 2009 or early 2010, said Toyota Motor Corp executive vice president Mitsuo Kinoshita.

That has now been pushed back to mid-2010 after Toyota reviewed the plans and considered the signs of a slowdown in the US market following the subprime mortgage crisis, Kinoshita told a small group of reporters at a Tokyo hotel.

"We made adjustments within a certain range of time," he said. "The change wasn't that critical."

Toyota, the world's second-biggest auto maker in annual vehicle sales after General Motors Corp, had been on a roll with its offerings of small cars and gas-electric hybrids amid soaring oil prices.

But Toyota is seeing trouble signs in months ahead because of an expected decline in US sales and a weak dollar that will erode the value of its overseas earnings.

Last week, Toyota forecast that for the financial year ending March 31, 2009, its annual sales would drop for the first time in nine years and that its profit would decline for the first time in seven years.

Toyota's list of problems is growing and includes soaring material and energy costs and a stagnant auto market in Japan. A weak dollar, now hovering above 103 yen compared with nearly 120 yen last year, erodes the income of Japanese exporters.

US vehicle sales have been falling in recent months, hurting General Motors and Ford Motor Co more than Toyota.

American sales are projected to fall to about 15 million vehicles in 2008 from about 16 million last year if declines continue at about the same pace for the rest of the year, according to Autodata Corp, which compiles such industry numbers.

Other Toyota executives expressed some worries about the home Japanese market, which has been stagnant for years.

Toyota projects that its profit this fiscal year will tumble 27 percent to 1.250 trillion yen (US$12.1 billion), while annual sales may fall 4.9 percent to 25 trillion yen.

Its shares dipped 0.9 percent to 5,250 yen in Tokyo.

Source:Shanghai Daily 
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