Toyota Delays US Prius Factory

A planned Mississippi plant is on hold as market for autos weakens
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2008 8:02 AM CST
2008 Honda Accord Coupes move down one of the assembly lines during production at Honda of America Manufacturing's Marysville Auto Plant in Marysville, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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(Newser) – It’s not just the Big Three. Toyota has delayed indefinitely the opening of a Prius factory near Tupelo, Miss., the Wall Street Journal reports, in the wake of plummeting demand. The factory was originally intended to build the Highlander sport-utility vehicle; when gas prices hit a high last spring, it was switched to the Prius hybrid. The Prius will now continue to be produced only in Japan.

Toyota's US sales for November plunged 34% from a year earlier, and global profits in its fiscal second quarter shed 69%, causing the company to cut its full-year profit forecast by half. Honda announced a fourth round of North American production cuts Friday, bringing the total number of vehicles cut to 175,000, and GM has cut 250,000 vehicles, or 30% of its North American volume, as it awaits federal help. Still, BMW, Kia, and Volkswagen all intend to expand US production in coming years.