Toyota Produces Gen 3 Prius In China
Today, Toyota started Chinese production of its third gen Prius hybrid. The car is being assembled at Toyota’s joint venture plant with FAW in frigid Changchun in China’s northern Jilin Province. Sales of the vehicle will begin in early 2012.
Production of the second generation Prius had started in China in 2005, the first time the vehicle was produced outside Japan. Due to its high price, the car was met with mixed success in largely hybrid averse China. Powertrain and core technology were imported from Japan, which kept the price up.
With the 3rd gen Prius, the technology is still being imported. However, there are plans for localized production.
In October, TMC announced plans to further localize production of hybrid technologies in China. Fully localized production of hybrid system components is expected by 2015.
So the real question I have here is this. Will the Chinese be able to steal and or reverse engineer this technology and try to sell it around the world. Putting the prize technology into the hands of the Chinese I think at the moment is a questionable act. So far, they have not proven their trustworthiness with things like this. I fully expect Toyota to have future issues much like the High Speed train industry does now. Of course we'll have to see here, but I hope Toyota has a contingency plan in case the technology is stolen. I will say this, I want China to stop the IP theft and join the rest of the world in IP protection, but I seriously doubt this is going to happen for a long time. Theft and piracy here are too accepted in the common culture.
Interesting. I wonder why there hasn't been more serious talk about building the Prius in the US or Canada. Given that they sell so many in North America, and already have a strong manufacturing base in place, building the Prius here would surely be advantageous. It's not like we're lacking in available manufacturing facilities...