Help! Why Toyota is Struggling to Fill Prius c Demand in U.S.

By Joel Arellano | March 19, 2012
Rivals must be envious of Toyota at the moment. The automaker is struggling to fill demand of its all-new Toyota Prius c which went on sale this month. The 2012 Toyota Prius c is the second vehicle to join the original Prius in Toyota's hybrid sub-brand, following the larger Toyota Prius v which went on sale last October. The Toyota Prius c starts at $19,710 and slots under the standard Toyota Prius, which starts at $24,760. Both prices include $760 destination and handling fee. Smaller than the standard Prius (about the size of the Toyota Yaris), the Toyota Prius c achieves similar fuel economy: 53 mpg city, 46 mpg highway, 50 mpg combined. The 2012 Toyota Prius c is currently assembled in Japan at Toyota's Iwate plant. The automaker originally planned to build 240,000 Toyota Prius c units there annually, but upped the figure to 360,000 annually, or around 30,000 Prius c hybrid hatchbacks per month. Unfortunately for Americans, roughly 60-percent of the Prius c hybrids will be sold domestically. Demand in Japan for the Toyota Prius c is not only high, but more profitable due to the current yen-dollar exchange rate.
Toyota is working on satisfying America's demand for the Prius c, though. The Iwate plant also assembles in smaller numbers the Toyota Belta (the sedan version of the Toyota Yaris here in the states), Scion xD, Toyota Blade hatchback, and the Toyota Ractis subcompact. The automaker seeks to free assembly line space for the Toyota Prius c by shifting production of the Ractis to its Higashifuji assembly plant. "We are looking at ways of satisfying the demand of all our customers," said Tetsuo Hattori, whose company Kanto Auto Works Ltd. actually runs the Iwate plant. Hattori stated he was unaware if Toyota planned to open additional assemble lines at other plants to meet the Toyota Prius c demand. Managers at Iwate are also looking at other ways to increase capacity as well.'s take: Public demand for the second generation Toyota Prius and the third, current model was so high that dealerships had to resort to waiting lists. Will history repeat itself with the all-new 2012 Toyota Prius c? Would you be willing to put yourself on such a list? What about paying a premium on the Toyota c price? If the latter, how much extra would you be willing to pay? Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)