TOKYO -- Japanese carmakers are recovering from earthquake-induced paralysis at an accelerating pace.
Toyota and Honda are bringing forward production schedules despite an abysmal April in which domestic output at some automakers collapsed by as much as 81 percent.
Toyota Motor Corp. aims to restore domestic production to 90 percent of normal in June, Japan's Nikkei newspaper said. A supplier familiar with the plan confirmed that Toyota aims to reach 90 percent of its original target as early as next month.
Toyota is still publicly sticking to its earlier forecast of achieving 70 percent of normal production in that time frame.
But North American production of most Toyota models will be back to normal in June, including output of the Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, Venza, Sequoia and Sienna, a Toyota spokesman said. Recovery of the Tundra, Tacoma, RAV4 and Lexus RX will take longer.
Meanwhile, Honda Motor Co. said its North American production would return to normal in August for all vehicles except the newly redesigned Civic. Production of that model will limp along at 50 percent of normal because of lingering parts shortages from the March 11 earthquake in Japan.
Honda's North American plants are operating at about half their normal rate.
The brighter outlook follows a brutal April. Honda reported that its domestic production tumbled 81 percent in April, from a year earlier. Overseas output fell 44 percent, while exports to the United States plunged 54 percent.
All Japanese carmakers took huge hits.
Toyota, which had its plants down for most of the month, said domestic output fell 75 percent in April while overseas production dropped 25 percent. Exports declined 78 percent.
Nissan Motor Co. also had a miserable month. Its Japan output slid 49 percent while exports tumbled 72 percent.
Likewise, Subaru, Mazda and Mitsubishi also suffered domestic production declines greater than 30 percent. Exports fared worse: Subaru's April overseas shipments plummeted 72 percent, Mazda's 62 percent and Mitsubishi's -- among the least hurt -- fell 30 percent.
Despite April's pain, Japanese automakers are on track to achieve about 90 percent of last year's output in the fiscal year that ends next March 31, Nikkei reported. It estimates that Japan's automakers as a whole will produce, on average, at about 80 percent normal levels in June.
Japan's carmakers have sidestepped one looming obstacle to full production.
Japanese industries are bracing for summer electricity shortages that will dent operations because several nuclear power plants were knocked offline by the earthquake.
But to ease stress on the grid while maximizing output, Japan's automakers have decided to run their plants on Saturday and Sunday, not on Thursday and Friday. The strategy aims to level overall consumption by shifting some to weekends when demand is usually lower.