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Rumors of a delayed launch of U.S.-built 2010 Prius hybrids have today been confirmed by the Japanese automaker. Blame for the plant's postponed start date can be placed squarely on the downturn of the global economy and US automobile sales in particular. Fortunately, Toyota had yet to fully staff the plant and has no plans to let any workers go. Unfortunately, workers in Mississippi that were hoping to find employment at the new plant will likely need to wait for a while until Toyota's ready to do any hiring.

The plant, which is located near Tupelo, MS, is already some 90 percent completed and has cost the automaker an estimated $300 million, so it's only a matter of time before Toyota begins producing something there, whether it's a redesigned Prius or not. In the meantime, the 2010 Prius, which will see its first formal debut at the Detroit Auto Show next month, will continue to be built in Japan and imported to the States.

[Source: Reuters]