The Not-Quite American Prius

the not quite american prius

Toyota begins assembling its Prius hybrid in Tupelo, MS sometime late in 2010, and you can expect this development to spawn some form of flag-waving PR from ToMoCo. After all, repositioning itself as an “American” company has been the central project of Toyota PR for a solid decade. But Automotive News (sub) reports that the Prius’s top supplier Denso has no plans to initiate production of hybrid components in the US… or anywhere else, for that matter. “Components used for hybrid vehicles are now experiencing very dramatic change and advancement,” says Denso CEO Nobuaki Katoh. “Given this timing, I still think the activities of development and production of the hybrid components should be concentrated here in Japan for the time being. After that, we may have to consider local production of components in overseas countries.” Quality, it seems, is the rallying cry keeping high-value hybrid component manufacturing jobs in Japan. With new lighter, smaller and less costly components being developed for the next-generation Prius, Katoh insists that Japanese production processes must be refined before they can be exported. Though an obsession with quality and process refinement has launched ToMoCo to its current dominant position, capitalizing on its early hybrid investments require driving costs down and production up. America has bought every available Prius for years now, and establishing top-to-bottom NA production of the Prius as soon as possible has got to be a priority for Toyota.

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  • KrohmDohm KrohmDohm on Oct 02, 2008

    Do you honestly think Denso's biggest customer doesn't have influence in this regard? That they can't specify something of this nature? Just imagine that Denso tells Toyota to pack sand and makes the parts in whatever plant they please. Then the parts don't to meet Toyota QA standards. Consequences?

  • Campisi Campisi on Oct 02, 2008
    Do you honestly think Denso’s biggest customer doesn’t have influence in this regard? That they can’t specify something of this nature? Yes, assuming they don't own a controlling stake in the company. If Toyota is desperate to have these highly-technical parts produced in the United States instead of Japan, then they would change to a U.S. supplier.

  • KrohmDohm KrohmDohm on Oct 02, 2008
    If Toyota is desperate to have these highly-technical parts produced in the United States instead of Japan, then they would change to a U.S. supplier. Unless Toyota management recently adopted a GM mindset, i.e. cost reduction before quality then I don't think this is likely. The Prius is now Toyota's flagship. Forget the Camry the Prius is their premier car. It's the their PR front and technology leader for the foreseeable future. It's a premier product with more demand than supply and will be sold out at whatever price ToMoCo sets within reason. If the nextgen model were to have serious issues it would get lots of press and be a PR disaster. Toyota will not cut corners for quality on this car anytime soon.

  • Campisi Campisi on Oct 02, 2008
    If the nextgen model were to have serious issues it would get lots of press and be a PR disaster. Toyota will not cut corners for quality on this car anytime soon. Then they'll stick with Denso and getting their parts from Japan.

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