TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. said today it will reopen a third plant in Japan on April 11 to resume limited production of the Corolla small car as it creeps back to recovery from last month's earthquake.
The Sagamihara plant outside Tokyo will produce the Corolla and the Raum minivan for the Japan market until work shifts, as planned, to a newly built factory in Miyagi prefecture in the quake zone. Both plants are operated by Toyota's body-making subsidiary Central Motor Co.
Central Motor's Miyagi plant opened in January and makes the Yaris sedan for export to the United States. It closed after the March 11 quake and is expected to remain shuttered until late April at the earliest. Damage has been repaired but the plants can't get natural gas supplies.
Toyota had planned to shift Corolla production to the new plant in Miyagi, from its old plant in Sagamihara by the end of April, and then close Sagamihara. But that plan has been delayed.
The April 11 reopening is seen as the continued wind-down of the Sagamihara plant.
Toyota has already partially opened only two of its 18 group assembly plants in Japan.
On March 28, Toyota resumed limited production of the Prius and the Lexus HS250h and Lexus CT 200h hybrid vehicles. The Prius is built at Toyota's Tsutsumi plant near the company's headquarters, while the Lexus models are made at Toyota Motor Kyushu in southern Japan.
Toyota said April 6 it still had no timeline for opening the rest of its assembly plants.
But press reports and suppliers say the company expects to restart limited production at most of its domestic plants as early as next week.
Toyota said April 6 that it expects to loose 260,000 units of production through Friday because of the widespread shutdowns of its Japanese assembly plants.