"With this significant increase in allocation for 2005, Prius will become one of our top-selling passenger cars as it continues to solidify its position as a mainstream vehicle," said Don Esmond, TMS senior vice president and general manager. "As a testament to its remarkable popularity here in the U.S., over one-half of total worldwide Prius production will be targeted for the U.S. market. We are hopeful that this latest increase will help alleviate the delivery delays many customers have been experiencing."
Globally, Toyota has sold over a quarter-million hybrid vehicles since the introduction of the first-generation Prius sedan, the world's first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, in December 1997. In addition to Prius, Toyota has built hybrid vans, box trucks, small buses and luxury sedans for sale in the Japan domestic market. Toyota will bring two more hybrid vehicles to the U.S. market early next year, with the arrival of the Lexus RX 400h and Toyota Highlander hybrid sport utility vehicles.
The increase in allocation is part of Toyota Motor Corporation's (TMC) recent announcement that it would boost monthly production of the Prius from approximately 10,000 units per month to 15,000, in order to meet global demand. The additional 5,000 units will be built on an existing assembly line at an existing production facility in Japan. The specific location of the plant will be announced at a later date. Production will begin in early 2005.
The increased allocation marks the second production increase for the second-generation Prius since it launched in October 2003 in the U.S. The original Prius production plan for the 2004 model was 36,000 units annually. With 12,000 pre-orders received before the vehicle launched in mid-October 2003 and approximately 10,000 units delivered in its first six weeks on sale, Prius production was increased in December 2003 to 47,000 units annually. With demand continuing to escalate, it became necessary to boost production once again.
Prius (the name comes from the Latin "to go before") is the first hybrid vehicle in the U.S. to provide the room, comfort and features of a mid-size sedan. Prius is also the first Toyota product to employ Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, gas-electric hybrid powertrain technology. The new system produces more power from both the gasoline engine and the electric motor, giving the Prius acceleration comparable to the Camry mid-size sedan. It carries an estimated EPA rating of 60 MPG in city driving and 51 MPG on the highway, with a combined EPA mileage estimate of 55 MPG. And Prius never needs to be plugged in for recharging.
In addition to its best-in-class fuel economy, the new Prius produces nearly 90 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle. Prius has been certified as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) and an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) category vehicle in California and those states adopting California standards.
Prius carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $20,875.
(Sept 30, 2004)