Prius Profit Made In America?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
prius profit made in america

Toyota doesn’t want to gloat or anything, but it’s going to make real money on its new Prius. “We reduced costs of hybrid systems for the current Prius by 50 percent from the first generation,” ToMoCo Vice Chairman Kazuo Okamoto tells Automotive News. “For the next-generation Prius, we will be able to cut costs by another half, so I think we’ve been able to ensure profitability will be similar to regular vehicles, such as the Corolla.” And though Okamoto-san comes across as lacking empathy for the plight of the American worker in these troubled times, this isn’t the case. In fact, emotion had nothing to do with Toyota’s decision to expand battery production to the United States. “It is very difficult to make the main parts of batteries outside Japan,” says Okamoto, “but we have to have battery production in North America. We just don’t know when.” Considering that the first American-built Prius is set to roll off the lines in 2010, US battery production was only a matter of time. And the fact that it should help Toyota pull down regular-car profits on the Prius is just the icing on the cake. Oh, and what of Bob Lutz’s hating on the plug-in Prius’s (theoretical) range? Okamoto confirms that plug-in Prius prototypes currently get only 8 miles of “initial EV range,” but that chasing the Volt’s (projected) 40 mile range would compromise cargo space and price point. What, that’s it? Aren’t space and cost are mere triflings, in the face of the monumental marketing achievement it will be when someday a company finally claims to sell cars that can go 40 miles without gas. I’m sorry, did I say someday?

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  • Redbarchetta Redbarchetta on Sep 09, 2008

    Geotpf if that's the case that it will be included in the next Prius than the idea is a winner, your basicly getting it for free. But to pay several thousand more like I have been hearing online doesn't make too much sense to me. I know it would never cost the stupid price of a Volt, but even $5000 more for 8 miles of EV is a lot of money for almost nothing. If I were them I would set a 20 mile EV range as the minimum target, who cares about competing with the Volt that is going to be a sales failure if it even goes on sale.

  • KixStart KixStart on Sep 09, 2008

    Redbarchetta, It appears the Prius will be available in both "plain" and "PHEV" editions. If the price of the optional battery increase isn't to your liking, you should still be able to get the base car (which will almost certainly be more capable and get better fuel economy than the current Prius) for about $22K (further precipitous declines in the dollar notwithstanding).

  • Kjc117 Kjc117 on Sep 09, 2008

    Okamoto-san speaks the truth. Panasonic will build a battery factory in the US but not for 3 to 4 years. It will need to be located somewhere between MIss. and KY.

  • on May 04, 2009

    [...] year, ToMoCo Vice Chairman Kazuo Okamoto told Automotive News how the company had cut costs. We reduced costs of hybrid systems for the current Prius by 50 [...]