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Toyota Prius to be manufactured in the United States?

Posting in Energy

It seems that EV automakers may have spotted a way to reduce the still-too-high-for-consumers'-tastes prices on their cars: shift production to the U.S., a major point of sale for plug-in and hybrid vehicles.

In 2012 alone, Toyota sold 236,659 Prius units in the U.S., all of them imported from Japan. Under the current arrangement, not only do U.S. consumers pay for the elevated shipping costs, but as with all imports, trims, options, and replacement parts are harder to come by. Many expected that Toyota would start producing the Prius in the U.S. last year, though this did not materialize.

Earlier this week, Shigeki Terashi, head of Toyota Motor North America, seemed to suggest that Toyota may start producing the Prius in North America. Though he didn't actually come out and say it, he responded to a question by the Nikkei about whether Toyota would move production of the Prius to North America by saying that Toyota intends to "make cars where they are popular." The Nikkei's read on the comment, according to The Truth About Cars, was that "the firm is looking to gain a cost edge over rivals." While the specifics of a North American production were left unclear, Terashi added that "the North American unit will also consider locally manufacturing key components for hybrids, such as batteries and motors."

If the Nikkei's interpretation bears out and Toyota does have plans to bring its Prius production to American soil, it could bode well for American consumers: domestically-produced cars will likely cost considerably less at the auto dealer than imports. Taken together with Nissan's recent decision to shift production of its Leaf EV to Tennessee, could this be the start of a trend towards cheaper hybrid and electric vehicles?

Photo: Toyota

via [The Truth About Cars]

— By on January 16, 2013, 7:05 PM PST

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure