Confusion over possible halt in Toyota US production

Workers give the final check Toyota cars
Image caption Car manufacturers in Japan face rolling power cuts and supply shortages at their parts factories

Reports that Toyota would have to halt production in North America due to parts shortages in Japan were a "total misunderstanding", the firm has said.

A US spokesman for the carmaker said on Monday that a temporary halt was "inevitable" following the earthquake.

But that was later denied by another spokesman at Toyota's headquarters in Tokyo, who said the comments had been taken out of context.

Toyota's factories in Japan supply many parts for cars assembled elsewhere.

'Out of context'

A US spokesman in Louisville, Kentucky, told the Associated Press on Monday that Toyota would reach a point this month where a "gap in the pipeline" would start to show up, forcing production to be suspended.

The temporary shutdown was likely to take place later this month, he added, although no lay-offs were expected.

However Toyota's spokesperson at the company headquarters in Tokyo, Paul Nolasco, said there had been a "total misunderstanding" and that he was "astounded".

A statement on the company website also said that recent reports were incorrect.

"We will continue to work closely with suppliers in North America and Japan to minimise any disruptions to Toyota's overall North American operations," the statement said.

The earthquake and tsunami of 11 March damaged car plants in north-eastern Japan, affecting supplies for many carmakers.

Last week Ford and Nissan announced temporary closures at some of their North American plants.

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