I’ve been out in Northern California this weekend, attending a family wedding. It doesn’t take much time on the road to recognize that the Toyota Prius has become has common as sunshine out here. And considering that the cheapest fuel I’ve seen comes in at $4.22 a gallon, sales seem to have nowhere to go but up.
That’s not necessarily good news for Toyota, which has pushed to the limits its current production capacity for the little hybrid-electric vehicle. But it may be a plus for the people manning the assembly lines in Fremont, California, home of the assembly plant the automaker operates in a join venture with its erstwhile rival General Motors.
The Japanese daily newspaper, Tokyo Shimbun, is reporting that Toyota is talking to its U.S. partner about switching things around at the Fremont plant, known as Nummi, to make room for Prius production. Toyota officials are refusing to confirm, or really even comment on the report. But considering the various factors they’re facing, there’s little doubt they: 1) need more production capacity for the Prius and 2) would have reasons to produce the car in its biggest market.
Oh, and add the fact that Japanese media tend to only report on such matters when they’ve actually been given the go by the country’s automakers.
Prius sales have soared by 21 percent so far this year in the United States. And it’s interesting to note that Los Angeles and San Francisco alone account for nearly 20 percent of American demand for the Prius.