Toyota Motor Corp. expects to halt some production in the United States because of a parts shortage caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
"We continue to assess our supply base in Japan," the automaker said Wednesday. "Some production interruptions in North America are likely. It's too early to predict location or duration."
Toyota has factories in Georgetown, Ky.; San Antonio, Texas; and Princeton, Ind.
Toyota said that it was working with its suppliers to minimize any disruptions and that for now, its dealers had an "ample" supply of vehicles.
Also on Wednesday, Toyota said it was delaying the launch of its Japanese-built Prius hybrid station wagon. It was to go on sale next month. Earlier this week Toyota said its factories in Japan would remain closed through Saturday.
The growing production slowdowns and factory closures are expected to tighten the supply of cars in the U.S. and lead to some higher prices, analysts said.
"Demand for new cars is proving to be steady, so we can be sure new-car prices will go up as inventory thins out," said Michelle Krebs, an analyst at auto information company Edmunds.com.
"All automakers are just now figuring out who supplies every little part. The shortage of any one could shut down an assembly line…. Virtually all major automakers have some risks," Krebs said.
Meanwhile, General Motors has suspended production of Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks at a factory in Shreveport, La., for at least this week because of a shortage of parts coming from Japan. About 900 employees work at the plant. It also furloughed 59 workers at an engine plant near Buffalo, N.Y., because of the parts shortage.