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Toyota Says It Has Clear Idea of Japan Parts Availability

Toyota Motor Corp. said it has extensively reviewed operations of suppliers disrupted by Japan’s record earthquake and has a “clear idea” when certain parts will be available.

“Toyota has been able to analyze the situation at suppliers,” Atsushi Niimi, executive vice president for global production and engineering, said in a conference call today. “We have a clear idea when parts are likely to be procurable.”

The carmaker, which last week estimated it would need until at least November to return production to pre-quake volumes, said today that supplies of microchips, rubber materials and paint additives are the main bottlenecks. Niimi declined to say how many days of parts inventory Toyota has on hand or to discuss which new-model releases may be delayed.

Toyota, which may lose its ranking as the world’s largest carmaker because of reduced output, along with Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. continue to assess the impact of the 9-magnitude quake and tsunami that struck March 11, curtailing electric power and parts supplies. Standard and Poor’s yesterday cut its outlook on Japan’s three biggest automakers and largest suppliers to negative from stable because of the disaster.

The company typically has about two and half months of finished vehicle inventory, Niimi said, without elaborating.

Group 1 Automotive Inc., the Houston-based owner of 103 auto dealerships, said it doesn’t expect the production disruption to alter Toyota’s plans for a revamped Camry, the top-selling U.S. passenger car.

Positive Margins

“As of last week, we were advised by Toyota that there’s no delay to the new Camry,” Chief Executive Officer Earl Hesterberg said on a conference call today.

Toyota today declined to discuss the quake’s impact on earnings before it announces financial results on May 11.

Toyota on April 22 estimated it may lose production of 300,000 autos in Japan and 100,000 at plants abroad through the end of April because of quake-related shutdowns. The Toyota City, Japan-based company also said last week it isn’t likely to meet its goal of building 7.7 million cars and trucks this year.

Hesterberg said he expects “more positive” profit margins because there had been an oversupply of high-volume models such as Toyota’s Camry and Corolla and Honda’s Accord and Civic before the earthquake.

The oversupply “is clearly going to dissipate in the next couple of months,” he said.

Prius Sold Out

Group 1, which had a small supply of Toyota’s Prius hybrid before the disruptions because of higher fuel prices, has been sold out of the model for “several weeks,” Hesterberg said.

The first models to be affected by the production delays will be compact sport-utility vehicles such as Toyota’s RAV4, Honda’s CR-V and Nissan’s Juke and Rogue, he said.

Toyota said today it’s recalling about 51,000 model-year 2011 Tundra pickups because of a drive-shaft part that may break.

The rear drive shaft in an estimated 0.05 percent of the vehicles may include a component called a slip yoke that could break due to improper casting during the foundry process, Toyota said today in a statement.

Toyota’s American depositary receipts, each representing two ordinary shares, fell 85 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $78.66 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They’ve declined 10 percent since March 10, the day before the quake.

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