September 8, 2008 / 4:06 AM / in 9 years

Toyota to work single shift at new Canada plant

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp will stick to a single shift at a new factory in Canada indefinitely due to soft sales in North America, a spokesman said on Monday.

The Woodstock, Ontario factory has the capacity to produce 150,000 RAV4 compact sport utility vehicles a year, but will build half that when production starts as planned with 1,200 workers in November, he said.

In total, the world’s biggest automaker had said it would employ 2,000 people to work two shifts.

“We will gauge market conditions before deciding when to start the second shift,” the spokesman said. The company had not disclosed when it would operate at full capacity, although Automotive News and Canadian media reported the plan had been for a spring start.

Last month, Toyota slashed its 2009 sales forecast for North America by 300,000 units to 2.7 million vehicles, as demand for light trucks falters in the world’s biggest auto market.

Toyota has also suspended some light-truck production in the United States for three months this year. Its U.S. sales have dropped 8 percent through August this year, against an 11 percent fall across the industry.

Toyota executives said on Friday that despite signs of steadier U.S. auto sales last month, they were not optimistic about an improvement next year.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Chris Gallagher

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