Toyota May Make Prius in California
Will there be a General Motors version of the car?
By Brendan Moore
The news out of Tokyo this morning says that Toyota is considering building the hot-selling Prius hybrid at their Fremont, California plant.
Toyota has shared the plant, called NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.), with General Motors since 1984. The production facility currently makes Toyota Corolla, Toyota Tacoma, and Pontiac Vibe vehicles.
The story was first reported by Tokyo Shimbun, one of Japan’s major daily newspapers. Tokyo Shimbun did not name any sources for their information, an unusual occurrence if a Japanese newspaper feels confident about their story.
If true, the news is noteworthy, for two reasons. The first reason is that it will be the first time the Prius will be produced in the U.S. The Prius is currently manufactured only in Japan and China.
The second reason is that it really begs the question of whether General Motors, with Toyota’s blessing, would be able to leverage the Prius production in the plant to make their own version of the Prius. If so, would General Motors even be interested in producing such a vehicle, considering the plug-in hybrid Volt is on the way and General Motors already has a two-mode hybrid engine in production? Of course, with SUV and pickup sales plummeting, GM may decide that it might not be a bad idea to have another hybrid car for GM shoppers to buy. Lots of ifs and maybes in that particular scenario. But, if Toyota does want GM to make their own version of the Prius (amortize those costs, boys), and GM wants to do that, it’s not as if that decision is laden with risk on GM’s part. Toyota has sold over a million units of the Prius since it was introduced in 1997, so it has been established that consumers like the car.
Of course, Toyota refused any comment on the news article: “As usual, we don’t comment on the details of negotiations, but nothing has been decided yet on the reported NUMMI case.”
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