Toyota has laid off 800 contract workers at a plant in southwestern Japan in response to slumping sales in North America, according to media reports today.
The layoffs represent about 10 percent of the plant work force at a Toyota production unit, Toyota Motor Kyushu Inc. A spokesman at the plant told The Wall Street Journal it will rehire 500 contract workers in the fall or later.
The plant canceled contracts with 350 workers in June and the remaining 450 workers on Sunday, Aug. 3. Workers there assemble Lexus RX and Toyota Highlander crossovers for export, mainly for North America.
Last week, Toyota cut its 2008 global sales forecast by 350,000 units to 9.5 million vehicles because of the downturn in United States. The automaker said its global production would decline for the first time in seven years, by 1 percent from last year to 8.43 million vehicles.
Last month, Toyota also said it would idle production of its Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV this week until November.
Toyota has said it will add production of the next-generation Highlander to its Princeton, Ind., truck plant, which makes the Tundra and Sequoia. In the spring, it plans to consolidate all Tundra production at its San Antonio plant.
Through July, U.S. sales of Toyota cars and light trucks were down 11.8 percent, to 163,336 units.
Toyota is to report its first fiscal-quarter earnings on Thursday, Aug. 7.