August 10, 2017 / 2:24 AM / 9 days ago

Toyota says to delay start of Mexico plant to early 2020

FILE PHOTO: A Toyota logo is seen on media day at the Mondial de l'Automobile, the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, September 29, 2016.Jacky Naegelen/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp will push back the start of operations at its scheduled new plant in Mexico, to the first half of 2020 from the initial plan of 2019, the company said on Thursday.

Japan's top automaker had initially planned to start building the Corolla sedan at the $1 billion Guanajuato plant but said last week it would switch production to a new U.S. factory to be built with Mazda Motor Corp.

Toyota said the delay was necessary to adjust its supply chain in Mexico to produce the truck-based Tacoma pickup model instead of the Corolla compact car. That factory could also build sport utility vehicles, a Toyota spokesman in Mexico said last week.

"With the production model change to the Tacoma pickup, the start of production will consequently be in the first half of 2020," a Toyota spokeswoman said.

"However, we will make our utmost effort to advance the timing in order to minimize the impact to suppliers and the local community."

Until the scheduled start of the joint venture plant with Mazda in 2021, Toyota will supply the Corollas that were initially slated to be built in Mexico from its factories in Mississippi and Japan, the company said.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Stephen Coates

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