Citing weak market conditions in North America, Toyota Motor Corp. plans to slow down the launch of its new RAV4 assembly plant in Woodstock, Ontario, next year.
The $1 billion plant will open late this year as planned with about 1,200 workers. But a second work shift that would have started next spring -- doubling production capacity to 150,000 RAV4s a year -- has been indefinitely postponed.
Mike Goss, a Toyota manufacturing spokesman in Erlanger, Ky., said the company still intends to add a second shift eventually, but has no specific timetable now.
U.S. sales of the small SUV dipped almost 19 percent to 12,911 in August. Goss said Toyota will continue importing the vehicle to meet demand in the United States and Canada.
"Our eventual plan, to operate two shifts at Woodstock producing 150,000 vehicles per year, has not changed," Ray Tanguay, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, said in a statement.
"With the weak condition of the overall automotive market in North America, we must continually re-evaluate the situation. RAV4 is well positioned in the SUV market and we will start a second shift as soon as conditions permit. This staged approach will not impact the job security of current team members."