I’m not sure how long ago it was when I first heard that Toyota was looking to move Prius production to the United States. Besides being their biggest market, Toyota was probably hoping to stifle some criticism regarding the green credentials of a car that is produced from parts shipped all over the world (sometimes more than once). That was back in 2008.
Toyota talking about moving production of the Prius to North America once again, and they’ve set a target date of 2015.
Granted, once the Great Recession hit, a lot of companies, big and small alike, had to change their plans. In the wake of last year’s devastating Japanese tsunami, which crippled Toyota’s ability to build the Prius, Toyota is now looking to secure local suppliers of hybrid components in North America. Not only will that reduce costs (as the high Yen is driving Japanese production costs skyward) but it will also add to the Prii’s green cred.
Alas, sourcing hybrid parts in North America is easier said than done. Many components for hybrid drivetrains come from China, and require Chinese rare earth elements. That said, moving production of the Prius and its components to the U.S. would not only be a big boon for American manufacturing, but it make the Prius more resilient to industry-rattling events like the tsunami, which affected automakers the world over.
Toyota is aiming to open the new plant by 2015, right around when a new generation Prius should be hitting dealerships. Word is the new manufacturing plant will utilize more lithium-ion technology, which could mean that the new Prii will finally ditch the nickel-hydride batteries they’ve been using. These plants may also build future Prius C and V models, as well as any other Prius + Letter combination Toyota can come up with (automakers in general need more creative names if you ask me).
I’m no fan of the Prius, but bringing production to the U.S. is a good thing no matter what way you cut it. I just hope Toyota actually goes through with it this time.
Source: The Truth About Cars