Toyota Motor Corp. will add Saturday shifts at its pickup truck factory in San Antonio over the next three months to boost dealer inventories still depleted after last year’s earthquake in Japan.
The Texas plant will be open on Jan. 21 and other Saturday shifts will likely be added until the end of March, when the Japanese automaker hopes to see its inventory revert to normal levels.
“The effects of the tsunami have run its course and we are back to rolling at full capacity of production,” Brandyn Moore, a spokeswoman for the plant, said. “We are trying to catch back up and get the trucks back on inventory lots for the dealers.”
The March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan led to a global shortage of key components including sensors and specialty paint.
The San Antonio plant, which makes full-size Tundra pickup trucks and about half of Toyota’s Tacoma truck inventory, was idled for two three-week stretches after the disaster. The plant also worked on a shortened three-day schedule for 11 weeks over the summer.
Toyota began ramping up output at some of its North American plants in the fall. Toyota hopes inventory will be “where it needs to be” by the end of March, Toyota spokesman Mike Goss said.
On average, Toyota dealers have about a 40-day supply of Tacoma pickup trucks, far short of Toyota’s target of about 70 days, Goss said. Tundra inventories hover around 70 days.
The production boost will also help meet increased demand after truck sales in the United States surpassed Toyota’s expectations in December.
“December sales were very good for the Tundra and Tacoma markets, so because of that we have a recovery Saturday set for this weekend and possibly some more in March,” Moore said.