Toyota's hybrid Prius will be built at its Blue Springs, Mississippi in the US; however, no date has been announced yet. Nevertheless, it is believed that production of the Prius, which is currently being imported from Japan, won't start before the American market stabilizes. In an interview with Just-Auto, a Toyota spokesman had said that due to the sour economy, the company has had "too much capacity."
As a result, Toyota chose not to spend all the money and to use its underutilized plant in Indiana. The spokesman also said that the production date has not been decided yet and that the company is "waiting to see what global demand for the Prius will be." Logistic support such as road and rail access is in place but the company has yet to hire workers.
Production has yet to start but already, many businesses (mostly automotive suppliers) want to locate in the area. The spokesman said that there are from 7 to 8 new suppliers who are waiting for Toyota's next step before finalizing their own actions to set up in the vicinity.
Big plans are in store for Toyota in 2010 for its biggest market. It plans to launch 10 new or revised models and it will focus on reviving the Scion brand.
A Toyota spokesman revealed that the company has yet to decide on a date for the opening of its Mississippi plant. According to the spokesman, the company still does not know if the demand for the Prius will pick up. Other reasons cited include the fact that while capacity remained high, the economy faced a downturn.
Thus, the spokesman added, the company made a decision not to spend everything it has but instead use its Indiana plant which had been underutilized. The construction of its Mississippi facility has been finished and all infrastructure has already been put in place like rail access and roads.
This is the reason why Toyota chose that location in the first place. The decision on the Mississippi plant is an example of how the company can adapt to the changes in the market though the spokesman shares that the only thing lacking at this point are employees.
The situation of its Mississippi plant also reflects that of the suppliers who also indicated plans of delaying work. The spokesman shares that while seven or eight suppliers are now also located in the same area, they continue to be on hold.
Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales U.S. president, shared during the Detroit show this week that Toyota is in the process of developing a new marketing strategy for the Prius that targets families in North America. This strategy, adds Lentz, is expected to play up the Prius brand equity.