By on May 11, 2012

Toyota’s sales forecast of 220,000 Prius models forecast looks like a lowball number now that Toyota has moved 86,000 examples of the hybrid from January to the end of April. Sales of the Prius V and Prius c have helped the nameplate see a 56 percent rise year over year, and now Toyota is clamoring for more units – but it may not get them.

Rising gas prices and new government incentives in Japan may create a situation where Toyota’s US arm may not be able to get enough Prius models. Bob Carter, Toyota’s US sales head, told Just Auto

“We’re tracking well ahead of [220,000]. I’ve ordered additional production. I’m confident we’ll get additional production but globally we’re seeing high demand, particularly in Japan.”

Aside from the Prius V and Prius c, the new plug-in Prius has been enjoying fairly brisk sales despite its reduced EV-only range compared to some other plug-in vehicles. But American appetites for the Prius, whatever you may think of it, apparently aren’t being satiated. Stateside Prius production can’t come soon enough for Toyota.

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42 Comments on “Toyota Asks For More Prius Inventory...”


  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Wasn’t Toyota’s Texas plant supposed to be building the Prius but cancelled during the carpocolypse?

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I believe it was the Mississippi plant that was going to get the Prius but, yeah, that got postponed.

      • 0 avatar
        Conslaw

        I bet they’re kind of sorry now.

      • 0 avatar
        SpinnyD

        It was changed after the economic collapse to the Corolla, But I suspect you’ll hear of an expansion for a Prius line there.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I hope they choose to build them in Mexico and import them under NAFTA. It was clear from the Toyota-bashing hearings before Congress that Toyota is just not appreciated for all it has done for America.

        I believe Mexico would be a great deal more grateful for providing jobs there and it may even keep some Mexicans home instead of coming over here draining our social resources.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    With the size and multiple-assembly-line setup of the NUMMI plant (Tesla can only be using a fraction of that space), why don’t they build Prii there? Toyota sells a good portion of them in CA anyways so that would save on transportation costs.

    Or does that make too much sense?

    • 0 avatar
      BigFire

      Toyota doesn’t want to make anything in California. Just too much regulation. The other 2 states are more company friendly in terms of regulations.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        I doubt it’s the regulations. It’s probably the labor cost that deters them.

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        Or the crazy possibility that it’s based on a combination of factors including labor costs, state regulation, union activism, overloaded transportation infrastructure, etc. etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I doubt that it’s either regulations or labor costs.

        As TMC builds a presence in the Midwest and South, it makes more sense to keep the plants located within reasonable proximity of each other. Suppliers tend to follow plants, so building a plant near other existing plants also means having suppliers that are also nearby.

        NUMMI was the first US Toyota plant. It had a suitable location when it was first built, because it was close to a major airport on the Pacific coast, i.e. as close to Japan as an American plant could be. (It was an experiment that could have failed.) As TMC has expanded its US production considerably since then, that proximity to Japan is no longer important; the company obviously knows now that it can build a US facility and make it work.

    • 0 avatar
      tparkit

      Why not use the NUMMI plant? Perhaps partly because California has become a third-world shlithole, which the company would be looted to subdize to an ever-greater extent.

      http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/255320/two-californias-victor-davis-hanson

      http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/286354/vandalized-valley-victor-davis-hanson

      • 0 avatar
        tparkit

        …and here’s something about the California exodus:

        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577340531861056966.html

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Why not use the NUMMI plant? Perhaps partly because California has become a third-world shlithole, which the company would be looted to subdize to an ever-greater extent.”

        If you typed less and read better stuff, then you would know that Tesla acquired it.

        Oops.

      • 0 avatar
        tparkit

        Well, Pch101, my focus is the business, social, and political conditions in California — not one specific facility there vs. another.

        I gather you don’t like the material at the links very much. I’m sure you have your reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “my focus is the business, social, and political conditions in California”

        You posed a question (“Why not use the NUMMI plant?”), to which you provided a long-winded answer.

        Which was fine, except that you blew it on the facts. But I can see that you aren’t one to allow facts to get in the way of a good argument.

        Get better sources, and rant less. You’ll be better off if you do.

      • 0 avatar
        tparkit

        Pch101, please notice that Tesla’s operation at NUMMI is mentioned in the original post by redmondjp I was responding to. By the way, you seem really angry. I can’t help but wonder why.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The NUMMI plant is in use.

        You obviously didn’t know that. You were too busy preparing your rant to know what you were talking about. And apparently, you still are.

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      It would be Massively Cheaper to build them in Mississippi like they originally planned to do, There is only one line there now, all of Toyota’s other plants have two, do the math.

    • 0 avatar
      RedStapler

      Its all about Logistics..generally you want the major suppliers within ~500miles (one freight day) of all your plants. NUMMI is 3+ days away from Toyotas core. It would make no sense to ship all the parts 1500mi west, and then put 4/5 of the cars right back on the trains bound for the midwest or east coast.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    North American production would be a good thing… might help make the car a bit more affordable, too. It might just make the car more profitable for Toyota… I’m sure they wouldn’t mind that outcome.

    But is US demand for the Prius a bit of a crapshoot? I don’t expect Toyota wants to commit to 200K units of the Prius, produced locally for the US market, if demand might tumble on falling oil prices.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      I’ve been hearing for the last 10 years that Prius’s are not profitable, and Toyota is selling them for a loss. When I bought mine back in 2005, gas was around $2.25 a gallon, and it was a basically “MSRP or get out of the way of the next guy wanting one…”

      FF to 2012, and my local dealer has 3 Prius’s in stock, two of them Five’s in the mid $30K range, and claims he has pre-sold his allocation of V’s and C’s for the calendar year. Doesn’t sound like much of a crapshoot to me. Would it be more profitable to sell more at a lower price?

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        True. But Prius sales have varied widely over the last few years. When gas prices drop, Prius sales slow. US Sales in 2007 were 181.2K and in 2008 they were only 158.6K. Annual sales is poor resolution for seeing the trend. I think you’d find that monthly sales follow monthly gas price changes.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Some of that is tracking gas prices but more of it is tracking the market.

        US sales were off 18% year on year in 2008. The Prius was only off 12%.

        US sales dropped another 21% in 2009, the last year of cheap gas we’ll ever see, the Prius again beat the market with a drop of 12%.

  • avatar
    thompson2

    The Mississippi plant was originally going to build the prius. After the economy took a dive they put it on hold. The plant is now making Corollas since they abandoned the NUMMI plant. I do not think they want to deal with the UAW at NUMMI ever again. I imagine they would expand Mississippi, Cambridge, or Indiana. Texas only deals with the big trucks. Of course they could always expand their Tecate plant. Just across the border from Cali.

  • avatar
    Ron

    About a decade ago I was close with an official at NUMMI who said that Toyota was very pleased with the quality of cars produced at NUMMI and thought that the UAW was very cooperative.

    • 0 avatar
      Omoikane

      If the official was Japanese, he was just being polite. If he was American, he was being misled by the typical Japanese politeness…

      http://kimallen.sheepdogdesign.net/Japanese/polite.html

      • 0 avatar
        Ron

        Normally I would agree with your comment — I speak a little Japanese, I’ve consulted for several Japanese automakers, and I’ve been to Japan a dozen times. However, in its first year NUMMI had the highest quality of any plant in North America. As far as cooperation is concerned, my source was the controller, who was paid by GM. His comment was made in amazement. When GM managed the plant, the workers had substance abuse problems, high absenteeism, etc. With Japanese management, the exact same workers, only older, had low absenteeism, did calisthetics before the shift began, volunteered suggestions to up the line speed, etc.

        Remember, NUMMI opened in 1984, an era when foremen sat in offices with doors that automatically locked and with baseball bats at the ready. Under the Japanese, any worker could pull a cord to stop the assembly line if he or she saw a problem, managers and workers wore the same uniforms and sat at the same tables at lunch, etc. Read The Machine that Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos.

  • avatar
    Omoikane

    While the sales numbers do warrant it, there are quite a few things to sort out before committing to a new plant for Prius.
    For now, Prius will be built in North America starting 2015 alongside other models in an existing plant. In the running are TMMI (Princeton/Indiana) and TMMC (Cambridge/Ontario).

  • avatar
    jeoff

    When is the Ford C-Max supposed to ship? Do you think that it has a chance for a slice of this action?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      It certainly will be a competitor to the Prius V since it is a five door hatchback and available as hybrid and plug-in. Depends on reliability of that drivetrain, pricing, general reviews etc.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      A chance, perhaps. I think Ford is going to have trouble pricing it competitively. The Fusion hybrid still lists for $28k+. It’s true that it’s nicely equipped but methinks they’re hiding a very high cost under the trimmings.

      Toyota is now offering an LE-level Camry hybrid for $25,900. The standard Camry LE is $22,500, as I recall. Camry hybrid sales have shot up dramatically since the new, less expensive LE hybrid trim was launched.

      I believe Toyota’s narrowing the price gap between a regular ICE car and the hybrid but Ford doesn’t seem to be closing that gap any too rapidly.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        As you say the current Fusion hybrid is the top spec model. Ford for the 2013 Fusion is following Toyota’s lead and having an SE hybrid model (that is the one in all the photos). So that should reduce the price, plus if they want any appreciable volume they will price accordingly (they have done this with their news cars like the Focus ST). We will know in the next 3 or so months when pricing info is released. They will shot themselves in the foot if it stays around $28K rather than $26K.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Job One for the 2013 C-Max Hybrid is supposed to be 07/23/12. That is the same as the 2013 Focus. However, there are no ordering guides out for the 2013 Focus/C-Max, besides the Focus ST. They should start reaching dealerships in the fall.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Well, I guess the shortage of Prius vehicles means that I shall never be able to buy a Prius C One in Oregon at MSRP… in fact, one dealer rep called me and said, “There is no such thing as a Prius C One!”… in other words: Why should we sell you the cheap Prius, when we can sell you the more expensive one?”

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      That’s what happens when you put out a great product that is much in demand. The dealers will assume that take-it-or-leave it attitude that was so prevalent during the era of the ’80s – 2007.

      Ka-chingggggg!

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I was looking for a used Prius. There’s one selling in my area, a 2005, 221,000 miles, $7,000 “firm” asking price. There’s another 2005 with more options and “only” 201,000 miles with a $8,990 asking price. It looks like the depreciation curve on these things goes for about 350,000 miles and is pretty darn flat.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I tried to purchase a Prius Plug In, but backed away from the bidding war. Instead, I purchased the Camry Hybrid LE at $500 below invoice. Eventually, when the crazy bidding stops on the Prius Plug In, I will trade the Camry in on one.

    I don’t understand why Toyota does not increase the supply. On the east coast, when a dealer gets one, they hold out for top dollar, and they get it.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The mark up has even been outrageous in the Detroit area. The Toyota dealers here don’t list the price of the plug-in, and then get mutiple offers above MSRP.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        There is a six-month waiting list for the plug-in Prius on the West Coast, and it is largely from current Prius Hybrid owners, I was told.

        OTOH, the plug-in Volt Hybrid continues to languish on the lots.

        This is not meant as a swipe at the Volt but merely to point out that “availability” does not always constitute “saleability”.

  • avatar
    danwat1234

    Here is a 0-80MPH video of the Prius C. Pretty good but bleh from 50MPH onwards. I hope they sell millions of these to people that used to have gas guzzling SUVs.

    /watch?v=l7fxonmq0lA

    Does anyone have numbers of how many C, V and regular Prii have sold this year?


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