TOKYO -- Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, in his role as head of Japan's automotive lobby, said the global pandemic is taking a big bite out of worldwide sales and production, but he pledged that assembly plants in Japan would do all they can to remain producing cars and trucks.
"Production shall be continued on the shop floor," Toyoda, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, said at a press conference on Thursday. "Otherwise, we will cause troubles and inconvenience to our customers. So, we shall never stop production activities."
Toyoda conceded some output adjustments will be necessitated by supply crimps and declining demand.
Nissan, for instance, has implemented sporadic suspensions at some Japan plants amid parts shortages, while Honda has slowed output of some models here.
But Toyoda urged Japan's auto industry to stay calm and work together through the crisis.
"Don't worry too much, but be earnest and help each other," Toyoda said. "At a time like this, we should smile and do everything we can to overcome the situation. So smile, smile."
Speaking through an interpreter at JAMA's regularly scheduled monthly briefing, Toyoda said it was too early to make predictions about how bad the impact will be or how long the industry interruptions will last. JAMA usually releases its Japan domestic market sales forecast for the fiscal year starting April 1 around this time. But it held off doing so on Thursday amid the uncertainty.
"People will turn negative if they keep thinking seriously about things that are not controllable," said Toyoda, who is also president of Toyota. "The biggest factor behind the current economic situation is unrest people are feeling because of uncertainties."
Toyoda's remarks came as Toyota and other global automakers suspend production across North America and Europe in an effort to slow the transmission of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Toyota, Honda, Nissan, GM, Ford and Chrysler are all pausing lines in the U.S.
Toyoda said the global pandemic opened the industry's eyes to the need to adjust to new work patterns, such as tele-working. Accommodating large-scale remote work, he said, is a new frontier in crisis planning that automakers are only just beginning to confront.