PRODUCTION OF THE third-generation Toyota Prius hit its first hurdle this week with battery supplier Panasonic struggling to keep up with demand.
Takahiko Ijichi, Toyota Senior Managing Director, said today at the company's quarterly earnings announcement that the problem is likely to continue into 2010.
Toyota's Tsutsumi plant in Toyota City, Japan, has the capacity to build 500,000 Prius cars each year. Demand for the new Prius is growing and Toyota is working overtime to meet the demand, but Panasonic's battery plant is unable to match Toyota's output.
"The new Prius model has been excessively popular, inconveniencing some of our customers, and the factories are working overtime at full capacity," Mr Ijichi said.
"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."
Panasonic is working to increase output to 1 million batteries per year by the middle of next year.
Mike Breen, Toyota Australia Public Relations Manager, confirmed to TMR today that Australian sales of the Prius so far remain unaffected.
"At this stage, from our point of view, dealer supplies aren't affected," Mr Breen said.
"Sales of the Prius in Australia are going quite well, and while specific figures haven't come in yet - they're due today - we can say that it's doing well."