Japanese car crisis

Toyota Motor Corporation is expecting its first ever operating loss as the global economic downturn hits the Japanese car industry.

The company is now projecting an operating loss of 150 billion yen (£1.12bn) for its fiscal year ending March 31, compared with a previous forecast of 600 billion yen operating profit.

Toyota has also lowered its net profit prediction to 50 billion yen (£375m) for the financial year to March 2009 and reduced its global forecast for the number of vehicles sold to 8.96 million, a four per cent reduction from last year.

While Japanese car makers are faring better than their American counterparts, the global downturn has made a significant impact on their profits. Last week, Honda also lowered profit and sales forecasts for the coming year.

Toyota president, Katsuaki Watanabe, said: ‘The tough times are hitting us far faster, wider and deeper than expected. This is an unprecedented crisis requiring urgent action.’

Ambitious expansion plans have been put on hold, but Toyota said that it would not cut any of its full-time employees. Redundancy figures for part-time employees remain unconfirmed.