• Kyodo

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Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday its global output dropped 16.2% in August from a year earlier to 531,448 units, the first fall in a year, due to parts shortages amid the spread of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia and a semiconductor crunch.

Toyota has already announced plans to curb production in September and October, clouding the outlook for an auto sector that has staged a strong recovery in sales in key markets including China and the United States.

The world’s top-selling automaker has trimmed its output outlook for fiscal 2021 through next March to 9 million units, down 300,000 from its initial plan.

Global sales in August rose 3.9% to 748,893 units, marking the 12th straight monthly gain, Toyota said.

Southeast Asia serves as a key manufacturing hub for automakers but factory shutdowns in countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam due to the pandemic have made it difficult to secure enough parts.

It has caused an additional headache for automakers already scrambling to cope with global semiconductor shortages. Chips are used in everything from laptops and game consoles to electronic devices and cars and the pandemic has boosted demand for some of those products.

In August, Toyota reported a 19.9% fall in overseas output to 345,722 units while domestic production dropped 8.4% to 185,726 units.

By region, production in China tumbled 30.3% from a year ago while Asia as a whole except Japan reported a 21.4% drop. Output fell 14.6% in North America.

The automaker expects global output to roughly halve in September and decrease around 40% in October from its original plans. The impact of recent production curbs on sales is expected to become apparent in the months ahead.

In August, Toyota sold 637,324 units overseas, up 3.4%. While the spread of COVID-19 prompted some dealerships in China to shut, sales in North America, where RAV4 compact crossover SUVs are popular, were more or less flat.

Buoyed by strong demand for the Yaris and Roomy compacts, sales in Japan rose 6.7% to 111,569 units. The figure in Japan includes sales of minicars with engines of up to 660 cc.

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