From: Kyodo News International, Tokyo
Published October 1, 2004 12:00 AM

Toyota to Double U.S. Supply of Priuses to 100,000 in 2005

Oct. 1—NEW YORK — Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it will double the supply of its Prius hybrid cars to the U.S. market to 100,000 vehicles a year in 2005.


U.S. consumers' demand for the highly fuel-efficient Prius is burgeoning due partly to the surge in oil prices, industry officials said. The Prius saves fuel by running on a combination of gasoline engine and electric motor.


The oil price surge may undercut demand for gas guzzlers such as large sport-utility vehicles, they said.


The planned boost in the Prius supply is likely to make it one of Toyota's key passenger car models in the U.S. market after the Camry and Corolla, they said.


Toyota put the Prius on sale in the United States in July 2000.


Demand was quiet at first but surged after the debut of the restyled Prius in 2003.


The aggregate U.S. sales of the Prius came to 100,000 in September this year.


Toyota said it will boost monthly production of the Prius to 15,000 vehicles from 10,000, starting early next year.


At present, Toyota supplies some 47,000 Priuses to the U.S. market a year.


But many U.S. consumers have to wait months for delivery because demand is outstripping supply.


On the Japanese market, the Prius broke into the top 10 in sales in May for the first time since its launch in October 1997, with monthly sales coming to 5,806, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.


Prius sales in Japan in the January-June period came to 32,832, putting it in 15th place for the period, according to the association.


To see more of Kyodo News International, go to http://www.kyodonews.com (c) 2004, Kyodo News International, Tokyo. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.


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