Toyota Taps Veteran to Revamp U.S. Sales: Report

The automaker also said it plans to further halt production in Japan by making output cuts in April.
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Updated from 1:29 a.m. EST


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is expected to announce Friday that it is bringing back Yoshi Inaba, a former senior executive, to revamp its North American operations, the

Wall Street Journal

reports, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Inaba, credited with laying the groundwork for Toyota's fast growth in the U.S. over the past several years, left the company in 2007 to run an international airport close to Toyota's headquarters. It is highly unusual for Toyota to bring back an executive who left the company, the



The expected announcement follows Toyota's move last month to name Akio Toyoda to be its next president, pending shareholder approval in June.

Toyoda is tapping Inaba after initially having approached him last year for insight into the company's U.S. sales operations. The scope of Inaba's responsibility in North America wasn't immediately clear, the newspaper reports. But Toyoda is expected to ask Inaba to focus on overhauling Toyota's sales network in the U.S. as the automaker struggles with plunging sales.

Meanwhile, Toyota said it plans to further suspend production in Japan to cope with slumping global demand and mounting inventories of unsold vehicles.

Toyota already is shutting down output for 14 days at its 11 domestic plants during the first three months of 2009.

But facing sluggish sales and rising inventories, Toyota has decided to halt production again in April for three days at the 11 factories, said spokesman Yuta Kaga.

"We are responding to demand in the global market, and also need to reduce our inventories," Kaga said. Toyota's domestic output in the January-March period in 2009 is seen at 520,000, down 54% from the same period last year.

Kaga declined to give details on Toyota's domestic output plan in May, but said the company forecast a rise in production in the month because of an expected fall in inventories and the launch of a new model.

Earlier in the month, Toyota said it would incur a net loss of 350 billion yen ($3.72 billion) for the fiscal year through March because of the plunging demand for cars, especially in the U.S., and the strong yen, which cuts its overseas earnings.

The dismal forecast, the first annual net loss since 1950, was a stunning reversal from the record 1.72 trillion yen profit Toyota posted the previous year.

Toyota also is cutting North American production and instituting a shorter workweek at some U.S. plants because of falling sales. The Japanese auto giant said last week it will offer buyouts to about 18,000 workers in the U.S.

This article was written by a staff member of AP contributed to this report.