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Toyota to halt production at five European plants

TOKYO, Apr 13 – Japanese auto giant Toyota said on Wednesday it would temporarily halt production at five European plants for several days in April and May, due to a shortage of parts following the March 11 earthquake.

Toyota said the plants in Britain, Turkey, France and Poland would also operate at a reduced volume throughout May "in order to manage available parts supply".

Japan\’s leading automakers have been forced to suspend production due to the impact of the huge earthquake and tsunami, with crucial supply chains broken and power cuts prompting plants to be shuttered.

Toyota joins its Japanese rivals Nissan Motor and Honda Motor in cutting back output in Europe.

The world\’s biggest automaker on Wednesday said three vehicle production plants — Burnaston in England, Adapazari in Turkey and Onnaing in France — will be affected by the latest production issues.

Output at engine manufacturing facilities in Jelcz-Laskowice in Poland and in Deeside, Wales, will also be halted.

Toyota said eight non-production dates between April 21 and May 2 have been scheduled, although this coincided with some previously planned public or company holidays at some facilities.

"Even though most of our parts come from European suppliers, we are experiencing gaps in our supply chain due to the situation in Japan," Didier Leroy, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe said in a statement.

"By adjusting our production in Europe, we are adapting to the current situation whilst not completely interrupting our deliveries of vehicles to our customers."

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The automaker has previously said it will suspend all output operations at most of its 14 North American factories for four to five weekdays later this month.

Toyota last week said production at its factories in Japan will restart from 18 April until 27 April at 50 percent of normal pace.

The production halts have hit the automaker at a time when it was recovering from a recall crisis that brought the quality of its vehicles into question.

Toyota was last week threatened with a downgrade of its long-term credit rating by Moody\’s, one month after Standard & Poor\’s cut its rating on the automaker.

Previously lauded for its safety, Toyota became mired in crisis when it recalled nearly nine million autos between late 2009 and February last year due to brake and accelerator defects alleged to have caused dozens of deaths.

The crisis dealt a huge blow to the firm\’s reputation, prompting predictions that it would lose market share as it tightened its recall policy to encompass around 16 million vehicles between late 2009 and January this year.

Toyota shares closed 1.38 percent higher at 3,285 yen Wednesday, partly due to a weaker yen.

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