A source close to the issue has said the combination of the recall crisis and the economic downturn have forced Toyota to reconsider its plans to build its Prius hybrid model in the US.
“We have no concrete plans to build the Prius in America right now,” the source said.
“There are still component sourcing and production engineering issues to work out.”
It is believed the decision was made in part because of the fact that several of Prius’ key components, including the inverter, electric motor and battery pack, were imported from Japan, driving up costs.
An unfinished plant in the US state of Missouri had long been billed as the new home of US Prius production. The plant was originally designed to build Highlander crossovers in 2006, but as fuel prices peaked in 2008, and the GFC took hold, the decision was made for the plant to build Prius models instead.
Although the plant could be made ready for production as early as June next year, some sources say Toyota won’t make a decision until it has finalised the closure of its NUMMI plant in California on March 31st.
A US spokesperson for Toyota, Ms Mieko Iwasaki, said the manufacturer had made no official decision on when the new plant will open or what vehicle(s) will be built there, but with NUMMI’s closure looming, the Toyota Corolla is rumoured as a strong possibility.