Toyota Motor Corp. managers are shopping for new Toyota cars in a voluntary effort to boost sales and show support for the company, an official said Wednesday, as Japan’s top automaker battles a global slump.
The move underlines the hard times for Toyota, which stunned Japan by forecasting its first annual operating loss in 70 years for the fiscal year ending March 31.
The proposal was first aired late last month in an in-house letter that goes to about 2,200 middle-rank managers, who form a clublike group, said Toyota spokesman Yuta Kaga.
No one will be forced to buy a car, and they are free to pick any model they want, as long as it’s a Toyota, although the request was made again in a Jan. 9 meeting for the managers, he said.
Toyota has grown by fostering tight teamwork, and workers are encouraged to come up with cost-cutting and other improvement ideas. Japanese companies tend to encourage a familylike corporate culture, although such practices are gradually fading.
Toyota managers have already taken a 10 percent cut in bonus pay. Top executives are taking a pay cut, but that amount has not been decided, according to the company.
Toyota has built a reputation for quality and mileage with hits like the Prius hybrid, and had been on a roll before the global financial crisis hit last year.
The company has now slashed the number of vehicles it expects to have sold last year to 8.96 million, down 4 percent from last year and below its initial projection for 9.5 million vehicles.
The surging yen, which erodes the value of overseas earnings, and the decline in global demand, are battering its results.
Toyota expects 50 billion yen ($555 million) in net profit, but an operating loss of 150 billion yen ($1.66 billion) for the fiscal year ending in March — a grim reversal of fortunes from the more than 2 trillion yen ($25.2 billion) profit racked up the previous year.