• Kyodo

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Toyota Motor Corp. may be forced to cut production further later this week due to a shortage of some steel products after an explosion at a key supplier, company sources said Sunday.

The nation’s No. 1 automaker has already decided to run its manufacturing lines without overtime in principle Monday following the gas tank explosion Wednesday at Nippon Steel Corp.’s Nagoya ironworks.

Toyota usually runs its manufacturing lines with one to two hours overtime.

The automaker is looking into plant-by-plant steel inventories, the sources said, and it is as yet unknown whether it can secure enough steel product supplies.

Meanwhile, Nippon Steel said Sunday that one of the two blast furnaces shut down after the incident was restarted at midnight Friday, but its daily output is still about 50 percent of that before the explosion.

Toyota, known for its just-in-time inventory management style to avoid excess inventory, halted production for nearly three days in 1997 due to a fire at a group factory.

But there are no plans to change its inventory management system, a senior Toyota executive said.

“We can’t sacrifice efficiency because of an accident that could happen once in dozens of years,” the executive said.

Nippon Steel’s Nagoya ironworks supplies steel products to 200 to 300 firms, including Toyota, Honda Motor Co., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Suzuki Motor Corp. and various electronics makers.