LOS ANGELES - Toyota Motor Corp., moving to ease consumer and dealer concerns about vehicle availability following the March earthquake in Japan, told retailers today it has 45 days of inventory on hand.
The announcement indicates the automaker's new car and light truck supplies have remained stable in the first few weeks of the month, despite worries about shortages following the quake.
In a memo distributed today, U.S. sales chief Bob Carter said Toyota should have more than 300,000 vehicles available for dealers this month, or enough to last more than 6 weeks at current sales rates.
The automaker reiterated today that it expects to resume normal output of eight models built in North America by next month, well ahead of the automaker's previously announced timeframe of November or December.
"With vehicles in the pipeline and a continued flow to dealerships, Toyota is in a healthy position as we move toward a full production schedule," Carter said. "Our team has been working aggressively to spread the word that Toyota is 'open for business.'"
On May 1, Toyota had a stockpile of 261,200 Toyota, Scion and Lexus models in the U.S., according to the Automotive News Data Center. That amounted to a 44-day supply and was down from 329,500 units, or a 50-day stock, on April 1.
Toyota declined to comment further on its inventory figures.
North American production of the Toyota Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, Sequoia, Sienna and Venza will return to 100 percent levels in June, Carter said in the memo. Toyota's North American manufacturing arm issued a similar statement on May 11.
The production increase will help Toyota's North American output return to about 70 percent of normal levels in June, up from the current rate of about 30 percent, Carter said.
Stockpiles of vehicles built in Japan – such as the Prius hybrid – are expected to remain tight until summer. Carter said earlier this week Toyota dealers can expect to take delivery of 36,000 Prius cars in June, July and August, or about 12,000 a month.
Today's memo follows reports that Toyota and industry sales dropped sharply in early May, in part because of rising gasoline prices, falling incentives and vehicle shortages.
Toyota's woes have prompted some rivals – notably Nissan Motor Co. – to launch a new round of promotions and incentives. Toyota has also responded by enhancing or restoring incentives this month.
Japanese automakers and major dealer groups including AutoNation Inc. have warned of second and third-quarter inventory shortages as a result of the country's March 11 earthquake.
Toyota's plants around the world have been hobbled as the automaker's supply chain was ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Toyota's U.S. sales – hurt by dwindling supplies of key models such as the Prius hybrid -- inched up just 1 percent in April, and have jumped 9 percent this year in a market that has advanced 20 percent.