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Toyota Delaying Launch of Prius V, Preparing to Shut Some U.S. Plants

Parts shortages worsen in wake of quake, tsunami, nuclear disaster.

by on Mar.24, 2011

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda with the Prius V hybrid during the Detroit Auto Show preview of the microvan.

Still struggling to get its Japanese plants up-and-running, Toyota has now delayed the planned April launch of its all-new Prius V.  The maker has also warned workers it may soon be forced to temporarily idle some of its North American assembly lines.

The hybrid microvan was to begin the roll-out of an all-new brand-within-a-brand sharing the familiar Prius badge that currently graces the world’s most popular hybrid-electric vehicle.  At last January’s Detroit Auto Show, Toyota revealed several models that will also be badged Prius, including both the V, a smaller Prius C, and a plug-in hybrid based on the current Prius sedan.

But the home market roll-out of the Prius V is being delayed indefinitely as a result of the worsening shortage of Japanese-made parts.  Toyota plants in Japan have been out of operation since March 11, when the island nation was slammed by a devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

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The natural disaster damaged or destroyed a number of component plants and disrupted roads and rail supply lines.  Complicating matters, the crisis Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant has created an energy shortage that has made it difficult to operate even those factories not directly impacted by the quake and tsunami.

Toyota officials continue to delay the restart of their Japanese plants and have meanwhile trimmed back production at their “transplant” North American assembly lines.  The maker is now advising workers here that some plants may need to be completely idled until the flow of Japanese parts can be resumed — or alternative sources found.


Clunkers Program Claimed Collectibles

Federal program attracted some rare and exotic trade-ins.

by on Sep.24, 2009

Would you pay $4,500 for a 1997 Bentley Continental R.  That's all one owner got for the luxury sedan, originally priced around $300,000, as a Cash-for-Clunkers trade-in.

Would you pay $4,500 for a 1997 Bentley Continental R. That's all one owner got for the luxury sedan, originally priced around $300,000, as a Cash-for-Clunkers trade-in.

My friend Ralph had to spend a Saturday afternoon in his garage getting his old beater running again before he could trade it in under the recently-concluded Cash-for-Clunkers program.

And he wasn’t alone.  The federal program, formally known as the Cash Allowance Rebate System, was designed to get older, gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing clunkers off the road by offering owners $3,500 or $4,500 vouchers, depending on the mileage they were trading in on.  And, by and large, that was a pretty good deal for most of the roughly 800,000 vehicles the government got off the road.

Trade In Your Old News Source!

Trade In Your Old News Source!

But government records suggest that at least of the few of the trade-ins might have drawn a fair bit more if their owners had really looked for the best possible deal.  And some of the so-called “clunkers” were pretty exotic and potentially desirable collector cars.