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by Matt Brogan

The all-new third-generation Prius might have to come with a “batteries not included” tag if the supply issue on the Panasonic batteries that feed the hybrid’s electric motors doesn’t improve any time soon.

New Prius has proved such a popular seller for Toyota that supply simply can’t match demand and as a result customer waiting lists now extend several months here in Austalia, in the US and in Toyota’s home market of Japan.

Toyota currently has the capacity to produce about 500,000 Prius hybrids per year, but Toyota’s battery supplier – Panasonic EV Energy – isn’t currently equipped to handle that level of production. As a result, Toyota has been forced to slow production as it waits for batteries to become available.

“The new Prius model has been excessively popular, inconveniencing some of our customers, and the factories are working overtime at full capacity,” said Takahiko Ijichi, Toyota senior managing director. “Unfortunately, the batteries are not catching up with demand. Production of the batteries needs to be increased in order for our production to go up.”

Panasonic beleives it will be able to match demand in a few months as it ramps up production to produce one million batteries per year by 2010.

For a first look at the all-new Prius, click here.




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