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Toyota disruption set to continue

Car giant Toyota has said its global car production, disrupted by parts shortages from last month's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, will not return to normal until November or December.

Company president Akio Toyoda apologised to customers in a statement for the delays due to the twin disasters that damaged suppliers in the north-east of the country.

"To all the customers who made the decision to buy a vehicle by us, I sincerely apologise for the enormous delay in delivery," Mr Toyoda said in a statement released before a press conference.

Toyota, the world's number one car maker last year, said the March 11 disasters, which killed around 25,000 people, have already caused a production loss of 260,000 cars.

Earlier this week, Toyota resumed car production at all of its plants in Japan for the first time since last month's massive earthquake and tsunami.

But the Japanese plants are operating at half capacity due to parts shortages and it is unclear when they will return to full production. Toyota's factories in China are also operating at 50% capacity.

In North America, Toyota has suspended production on Mondays and Fridays from April 26 to June 3. During the same period, plants will run at half capacity on other weekdays and suspend production in late May for holidays in the US and Canada.

The company has pledged not to lay off any of its 25,000 workers and said it will use the extra time for training to make improvements at its 13 North American factories.

Mr Toyoda said the car maker had sent workers into the disaster zone to help factories, dealers and suppliers recover, and was confident they would contribute to a "quicker recovery" of production.

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