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Toyota to Suspend Output at Third Plant

Japan's biggest automaker said it was suspending production at a third plant later this month as it tries to cope with falling demand in the U.S. and around the world.Updated from Wednesday, Dec. 3

TOKYO -- Toyota is starting to feel the pinch of the global slowdown at home.

On Thursday, Japan's biggest automaker said it was suspending production at a third plant later this month as it tries to cope with falling demand in the U.S. and around the world.

Toyota Motor Hokkaido Inc., a major subsidiary that makes engine transmissions, will stop all its assembly lines Dec. 25, company spokesman Harutoshi Fukasawa said. It will be the first work stoppage at the plant in 15 years caused by falling production.

The plant, located on Japan's northern island, makes automatic transmissions and other parts, mostly for the Corolla compact exported to the U.S., where Toyota's sales plunged more than 30% in November.

The news came a day after Toyota said two other plants will temporarily suspend some production.

"Japanese auto demand was already bad, but now U.S. demand is falling and the situation is extremely difficult," Fukasawa said, adding some lines also will be stopped on Saturdays in December.

Additional plant closures may be needed in months ahead if U.S. troubles continue, he said.

On Wednesday, Toyota Motor said it will suspend production of Lexus luxury models at its Tahara plant, in central Japan, and output of all vehicles at its Miyata plant, in southwestern Japan, on Dec. 24 and 25. Christmas is not a holiday in Japan.

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