Local News

Despite a drop in production and profits after the earthquake in Japan, Toyota Motor Company officials are optimistic about the automaker’s future.

Toyota sales spokesperson Steve Curtis says the parts shortage that followed the earthquake has not been as long or severe as expected. Toyota profits dropped by 77 percent after the disaster, but Curtis says demand, at least in North America, remains high.

“We were the number one retail brand in the first quarter. Toyota was the number one retail brand in April. We’ve got ten new or redesigned vehicles coming online in the course of this year and we feel very, very excited about those models and feel it puts us in a good place,” he says.

Production of Toyota’s most popular vehicle, the Camry, will be at one hundred percent in North America this summer. Toyota manufacturing plants—including one in Georgetown, Kentucky—will increase production next month after weeks of reduced operations. Some delays, however, are expected. A new model of the Prius hybrid that was announced will be hard to find for several months due to problems manufacturing the batteries.

Some industry analysts predict Toyota will recover, though it will likely lose its title as world’s largest automaker. Others have speculated that the company may move more production to North America rather than ship vehicles that aren’t manufactured in the U.S.