Strong sales of the Prius have forced Toyota to consider building the hybrid within the United States, but now it’s official: the car will be built in Mississippi for U.S. consumption.
The car will be built in a new Toyota plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, which is currently under construction. Toyota expects the factory to be up and running in 2009, with full-scale production of the Prius in the U.S. by 2010. When that happens, the Prius will become the second Toyota hybrid model to be built in the United States (the Kentucky-built Camry Hybrid being the first).
Shifting production displaces production of the mid-size Highlander SUV, originally slated to be built at the facility. Instead, the Highlander, which is currently built only in Kyushu, Japan, shifts to Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana facility in late 2009.
The Princeton plant, currently home to the Sienna minivan and the full-size Sequoia SUV and Tundra pickup, will lose the Tundra model in order to handle Highlander production. Toyota plans to consolidate production of the Tundra at its San Antonio, Texas plant following a two-month shutdown, allowing it to match production to dwindling sales figures.