THANKS TO HUGE demand and a surge of interest in the car ahead of its US launch, Toyota will be increasing production of the 2010 Prius at the two Japanese plants that produce the car.
Initial sales forecasts were pegged at 100,000 cars for 2009, but after 80,000 people pre-ordered a Prius before it even launched in Japan and 20,000 more orders were placed after the launch, Toyota has been forced to change its plans.
Annual production will be increased from 400,000 to 500,000 units per year, which should enable Toyota to supply most global markets on time and with a minimal waiting period.
However, high demand from the US could rob other markets of their allocations which, considering the popularity of the outgoing model, may be a likely scenario.
That may drive some buyers into the arms of Honda and its recently-launched Insight, however bulging order books for that model means Honda is also experiencing the same supply problems as Toyota - so much so that the Australian launch of the Insight has been pushed back to the second half of 2010.
The 2010 Toyota Prius is scheduled to arrive in Aussie showrooms next month. Last time we heard from Toyota that date was a dead certainty, so at this stage it appears we won't experience any delays in receiving Toyota's new hybrid.
Whether that changes or not, one thing's for certain: this is definitely a good time to be in the hybrid business.