Parts supplies have been running low for the Japanese automaker, and now battery shortages have taken a toll on the production of the new Pruis models, with consumers facing the prospect of having to wait up to year before they can take delivery.
A lithium-ion battery is being used in a Toyota hybrid for the first time, and the company had been dealing with shortages on it even before the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March. The devastation has added even more pressure on key parts suppliers to produce, but the Japanese automaker has said production wouldn’t be completely back to pre-disaster levels until late this year. These lithium-ion batteries are crucial to the new Prius production because they take up less space, and allow for more cabin room.
The new, larger 2012 Prius V model starts at $29,000 and was slated to go on sale in North America later this year; the European version, called the Prius +, has a third row to accommodate seven people, and was planned to launch in Europe in the middle of next year.
Toyota has already received 25,000 orders for the new Prius models, with 7,000 of them for the ones with the lithium-ion batteries. Toyota planned to sell 2000 of the new models a month in North America, and 2000 a month in Europe, but Toyota Exec Satoru Mouri said only 1000 of the lithium batteries could be produced a month.
Toyota was not available for comment.
UPDATE: Although the company is experiencing lithium battery shortages, Toyota officials have announced the Prius V is still on track for delivery to U.S. customers this fall.
Source: Detroit News