The president of Toyota Racing Development said Wednesday he expects budget cuts in its NASCAR program as the Japanese automaker feels the effects of the global economic crisis.
Typically immune from the declining sales that have rocked Detroit's Big Three automakers, Toyota recently said it anticipates its first yearly operating loss in 70 years for the fiscal year ending March 2009.
Competitors have long grumbled that deep-pocketed Toyota would outspend the competition in an effort to reach the top of NASCAR. The automaker is entering its third season in the top-tier Sprint Cup Series, where Joe Gibbs Racing drivers gave Toyota 10 victories.
But as Chrysler, Ford and General Motors have struggled in this economic crisis — needing recent emergency government loans to avoid collapse — Toyota remained relatively healthy. Then came word of the automakers' own losses:Toyota reported that its U.S. sales in December were down 37 percent on the year, a worse drop than Ford's 32 percent drop and GM's 31 percent slide.
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-- The Associated Press