Prius to be American-made

Toyota U.S. plant reorganization includes addition of its star hybrid, while SUV production is suspended and consolidated.

2008 Toyota Prius Touring Edition. Toyota

Americans will soon have another feel-good reason to buy a Prius.

Prius production in the U.S. will begin in late 2010 at a plant currently under construction in Blue Springs, Miss., Toyota announced Thursday.

So, aside from saving on the cost of gas through better gas mileage and raising environmental awareness, buying a Prius will soon be a product made by American workers...or at least assembled by them.

Toyota said the change is in response to consumer demand in North America.

As it's been widely reported, there's been a Prius shortage in the U.S. with some consumers being forced to wait as long as three months and pay as much as $3,000 over sticker price. Even celebrity techies have been told to wait their turn.

Meanwhile, sales of Toyota SUVs have gone down and Toyota is responding to that change as well.

The company is halting production of its Tundra and Sequoia SUVs as of August 8 due to the decrease in consumer demand. Production is scheduled to resume in November and the workers of those plants "will continue to be provided work," Toyota said in a statement.

The Japan-based company also plans to consolidate the production of its Tundra, a full-size pick-up truck produced in both Indiana and Texas, to one plant in San Antonio starting in spring 2009.

"The truck market continues to worsen, so unfortunately we must temporarily suspend production," Jim Wiseman, vice president of external affairs for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, said in a statement.

Wiseman also said that the introduction of the Prius into company plant plans is an example of Toyota's long-term commitment to suppliers, workers, and their communities in North America.

There is no word on whether the plant changes will result in the loss of U.S. jobs.

Toyota does produce the Camry hybrid in the U.S. already and that production shall continue, according to the company.

Toyota also announced in early June that it plans to produce as early as 2009 and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle available for purchase in the U.S. in 2010 . Toyota, however, has not yet said where the vehicles will be produced.

About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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