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Toyota Struggles to Keep up With Demand for 2010 Prius

Japanese automaker is now running plants 24 hours a day

 |  Jun 15 2009, 12:51 PM

04 10 Prius.jpg

While Toyota’s sales may be suffering as a whole, sales of the all-new 2010 Prius are well above expectations. In fact, the Japanese automaker is having trouble keeping up with demand – something which may result in lengthy waiting lists for the third-generation of Toyota’s successful hybrid.

At the two facilities where the Prius is built in Japan, the plants are running 24 hours a day. To help staff the plants, Toyota has recruited workers from some of its other facilities and has restricted holidays for the summer.

And yet that still might not be enough.

Toyota says it can build as many as 50,000 units a month and it expected that with the dismal economy it could easily handle a forecasted volume of 400,000 units for the year. But before the Prius even when on sale Toyota had taken 80,000 orders for the car and sales in Japan last month topped 110,000 units.

This mini economic boom is having a positive effect on Toyota’s many suppliers, like Panasonic EV Energy, which makes the batteries for the 2010 Prius.

The popularity of the Prius is even prompting Toyota executives to reconsider moving Prius production to the United States, at a facility to be built in Blue Springs, Miss. – a project that was put on hold due to the high overhead costs (and, therefore, economic risk) of building a hybrid assembly plant.

If the 2010 Prius continues to sell well above the expected volume it could help Toyota surpass its sales goal this year of 6.5 million units.

[Source: The New York Times]