Toyota to freeze Thailand, Russia factory plans-media

TOKYO, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T, the world's biggest automaker, will freeze plans to build new factories in Thailand and Russia due to sluggish demand worldwide, Japan's Sankei newspaper reported on Saturday.

Toyota last month forecast a first-ever annual operating loss, blaming a relentless sales slide and a crippling rise in the yen for what it said was an emergency unprecedented in its 70-year history. [ID:nT299128]

It has also said it would cut capital expenditure and auto production to try and cope with tanking global auto demand.

Sankei, citing an unnamed company official, said the suspension of construction plans for the new factories in Thailand and Russia was part of such plans.

Automakers around the world face their toughest business environment in recent memory, caught in a sharp reversal of demand as the financial crisis spreads, squeezing credit and consumer sentiment.

In June, Toyota said it would build a new 150,000 units-a-year diesel engine factory in Thailand, which would raise its annual diesel engine output capacity to 350,000 units in 2010 and create about 700 jobs. [ID:nT303705]

But Japan’s top automaker would suspend the plan because of slumping global auto demand, the Sankei said.

In St. Petersburg, Russia, Toyota began building cars at a new 50,000-units-a-year factory in December 2007. [ID:nL2116321]

But it will now freeze plans to build a secondary factory at the location as production at the existing factory fell short of its forecast, the newspaper added. (Reporting by Yoko Nishikawa; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)