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First Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius v

Keeping it all in the family.

by on Jun.22, 2011

The 2012 Toyota Prius v is the first in an expanding family of Prius-badged hybrids.

There was a sense of déjà vu as we walked up to the new hybrid parked outside the Eagle Crest Conference Center.  But no wonder.  All similarities are purely intentional when it comes to the new 2012 Toyota Prius v, the first addition to what is soon to become an extended family of Prius-badged hybrids.

It’s been 11 years since the original Prius made its debut, promising an under-the-hood revolution that seems especially timely today with fuel prices nudging upwards towards record levels.  Surprisingly, though, that revolution never quite seems to take off.  Despite $4-a-gallon gas, hybrids today account for barely 3% of the total U.S. market and, all told, if you added them all up their collective sales didn’t match the May numbers for Detroit’s three most popular muscle cars, the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

The Inside Story!

Okay, maybe May wasn’t a great example, as Japanese makers like Toyota were still struggling with production cuts caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Sales of the Prius alone were off as much as 40%, company officials lament, due to supply shortages.  Indeed, for the moment, there’s barely a 4-day supply of the original Prius in U.S. showrooms.  The fact is, while American motorists have yet to embrace hybrids, on the whole, they’re in love with the distinctive little Toyota, which now accounts for about 50% of the gas-electric models sold in the U.S. (For more, Click Here.)

So, is it any surprise that when Toyota decided to roll out an assortment of new standalone hybrid models, like the new Prius v, that they would share the familiar and popular badge – and maintain a very familial appearance?

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Japanese Makers Hiring Thousands to Make up for Lost Production

Toyota, Honda alone will add up to 5,000 temporary jobs.

by on Jun.22, 2011

Toyota is struggling to make up production of the Prius lost due to Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

With operations at most of Japan’s automotive supplier and assembly plants starting to return to normal, manufacturers are putting out the Help Wanted signs as they race to make up for lost production.

Toyota and Honda alone expect to add up to 5,000 temporary workers in a bid to boost their output during the second half.  Other makers, including Nissan, plan to hire new workers, as well.

Insight!

Toyota now hopes that it can add an extra 350,000 vehicles to its assembly schedule during the second half of the fiscal year ending next March, said Senior Managing Director Takahiko Ijichi, which would reduce its overall production losses to about 450,000 cars, trucks and crossovers.

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Toyota Reports Dealers Down to 4 days of Prius Inventory

Though overall hybrid sales sliding, Toyota officials hope for strong launch of new Prius v.

by on Jun.21, 2011

The debut of the Prius v has been pushed back about two months because of the Japanese earthquake.

While its factories are rapidly getting back up to full speed following the devastating March earthquake in Japan, Toyota dealers are struggling to meet demand for the popular Prius with barely a “three to four-day supply” of the world’s best-selling hybrid model, a senior official said.

 

By comparison, makers consider a 50 to 60-day supply to be normal for most products.  The shortfall likely resulted in a 30 to 40% shortfall in sales of the Prius during May, said Toyota’s hybrid marketing manager Ed LaRoque.

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The crisis, which all but shut down Toyota production the first month after the March disaster—and continues to leave its plants running below capacity — has also forced the maker to delay the launch of its new Prius v, the first in a “family” of hybrids to share the same brand identity as the original Toyota model.  According to La Roque, the debut of the v, a larger, wagon-like take on the familiar hybrid sedan, will be “a few months behind,” and probably won’t reach U.S. showrooms until around October. The maker is meanwhile hoping to start rebuilding supplies of the original Prius over the next several months.

 

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Toyota’s Japanese Plants Set to Re-open

But maker will still operate at half capacity -- and only temporarily.

by on Apr.08, 2011

Not out of the woods, yet. Toyota will resume Japanese production only temporarily.

More than a month after Japan was wracked by a series of natural disasters – and the subsequent crisis at a nuclear plant – Toyota Motor Co. is preparing to reopen its home market plants.

The maker revealed today it will resume operations on April 18th through at least the 27th, but at only half the normal capacity of that expansive production network.  The 18 factories will then shut down again from April 28 through May 9, a traditionally holiday period in Japan.

News You Can Use!

The industry giant reports it has lost about 260,000 units of production since its factories were shut down by the 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan.  It is unclear how many additional units Toyota will lose due to maintaining a reduced production schedule.

And it remains unclear what the maker’s plans will be following the Golden Week holiday.  Toyota officials say they are slowly resolving problems related to parts shortages caused by the March 11 disaster.  But they still are facing problems with at least 150 parts and components.

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