Toyota has reversed directions on its plan to produce the popular Prius hybrid here in the United States, and will now delay that move until at least 2016, according to a senior company official.
Despite growing demand for alternative propulsion – and increasing production by its North American-based competitors – Toyota’s production chief, Atsushi Nimmi, told reporters the technology for key hybrid components is “not mature enough” to take out of Japan.
Making the move to an American plant, he suggested, would have to wait until the next-generation Prius is ready, something now scheduled to happen until 2016.
The decision comes in sharp contrast with previous Toyota pronouncements.
During the gasoline price spike of 2008, when fuel costs topped $4 and sales of the Prius and other hybrid-electric vehicles also set new records, Toyota said it would begin building the distinctive, high-mileage sedan at a new plant near Tupelo, Mississippi.