2010 Toyota Prius - Click above for high-res image gallery
Toyota has a major hit on its hands in the form of the redesigned 2010 Prius. While that's surely great news for the brand (which is otherwise posting huge sales declines along with nearly every other automaker in the world) it's also reportedly exposing the availability of batteries as the biggest bottleneck to production. According to Takahiko Ijichi, Toyota senior managing director:
Panasonic EV Energy, the company that supplies nickel metal hydride batteries to Toyota for the Prius, can produce a maximum of 500,000 packs per year. Plans are in place to expand production capabilities, but that's not going to help eager Prius customers get their new hybrids any faster in the short term.The new Prius model has been excessively popular, inconveniencing some of our customers, and the factories are working overtime at full capacity... Unfortunately, the batteries are not catching up with demand. Production of the batteries needs to be increased in order for our production to go up.
In related news, Ijichi once again confirmed that Toyota does indeed make money on the Prius, saying, "In terms of the Toyota lineup, I'd say it's probably in the midlevel of profit."
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[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]