Nearly two years ago, Toyota mulled moving some production of its popular Prius hybrid to the U.S., but the automaker may have put those plans on indefinite hold.
Toyota had once considered building the Prius at its yet-unfinished assembly plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, which was once slated to build Highlander crossovers before the fuel crunch of 2008. Sources close to the automaker tell Automotive News that U.S. Prius assembly is anything but a done deal.
“We have no concrete plans to build the Prius in America right now,” an anonymous source told Automotive News.
Although building the Prius in America would help Toyota keep pace with demand and reduce production costs, the automaker would have to develop and find a new supply base for many of the car’s key components. Battery packs, electric motors, controllers, and inverters are all presently supplied by companies based in Japan. In order to fully realize the benefit of building a car in America, Toyota would likely have to source many — if not all — of those parts from North American suppliers.
The news adds to the already substantial speculation surrounding the Blue Springs plant. Toyota suspended construction of the facility in 2008, and hasn’t confirmed if it will complete the development. Future plans for the Blue Springs plant will likely to be announced after Toyota closes the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California, later this month.
Speaking of NUMMI, there is a chance that the Corolla — one of two Toyota products currently being produced at the plant — could shift to Blue Springs. Plants in Ontario, Canada, and Japan also supply cars to the U.S., but there may be interest in restoring the compact’s original production volume.
Source: Automotive News