The global downturn in car sales is a familiar topic these days, and even the production juggernaut of Toyota is facing unseen declines in demand for its products. To help realign output with that demand, the company has planned to shut down all 12 of its Japanese plants for a total of 11 days in February and March.

Toyota's move in Japan echoes similar cutbacks already made by the carmaker in the U.S. as the company struggles to find the right balance of production. A report by the AP reveals that the issue of slow sales isn't just limited to SUVs and pickups. "We are coping with a slump in global sales," said spokesman Hideaki Homma. "Demand in the world auto market is so depressed that every model is falling sharply in sales."

Sales figures through the end of December showed a precipitous drop of 37% versus December 2007. That outpaces even Ford and General Motor's rapid race to the bottom, falling 32% and 31%, respectively.

The news of the planned production suspension comes just ahead of the Detroit Auto Show, where Toyota is expected to reveal a plug-in variant of the Prius hybrid and a new all-electric model called the FT-EV.