Toyota extends shutdown days

Toyota's Georgetown plant, hampered by declining sales of its vehicles, will shut down more often than normal this December and January.

The plant typically closes for the holidays from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, but this year, it also will stop production on Dec. 18 and 19, as well as Jan. 5-9, 16 and 19, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The factory typically has not shut down for that holiday.

The plant, along with all but one of Toyota's North American plants, announced last month that it would shut down on Dec. 22 and 23. It has also previously said it would shut down on Jan. 2 since it falls on a Friday.

On most days, Toyota's workers will be given the choices of coming to work and doing non-production jobs such as training, or taking paid vacation or unpaid time off.

However, on three of the days in January — Jan. 5, 6 and 19 — Toyota will require employees to use paid vacation. The company has required employees to do that before in years when holiday dates fell in such a way that workers would have come back for just one day in a week.

But this is the most it has asked of employees at any one time.

"We've never had a condition like this with sales being so poor and having to make production adjustments," Toyota spokesman Mike Goss said.

The automaker told workers at all of its North American plants on Friday to expect these shutdown days. The number of days at each plant will differ, though, based on inventories of the vehicles produced at each site, Goss said.

Toyota announced its North American sales for November earlier this week and said the number of vehicles sold dropped by more than one-third.

Sales of the Camry, which is produced at Georgetown, fell 28.8 percent from the same period a year earlier, while the Georgetown-produced Avalon saw sales fall 61.6 percent.

Camry sales, though, are down just 5.6 percent for the year, faring far better than SUVs and pickups.

The Tundra pickup is down 28 percent year-to-date and 56 percent in November.