According to the Japanese daily newspaper Tokyo Shimbun, unnamed sources inside Toyota have informed them the company is in talks to assemble the new Toyota Prius hybrid in the United States in partnership with General Motors. Say what? That Toyota wants to build the next-generation Prius in the United States, given its popularity (they're harder to find) and a weaker dollar, that isn't the hugest surprise. The choice of Fremont, California would be an interesting choice as it means the Prius would be built at the NUMMI plant, a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota. The plant currently builds both the Toyota Corolla as well as the Pontiac Vibe — both built on the same shared platform.
The choice of whether or not to allow the Prius to be assembled in the United States (most of the parts will likely be built in China/Japan) or the choice of production facilities is probably more Toyota's than GM's. More importantly, according to one Toyota spokesperson, they are actually contemplating the decision:
"Nothing has been decided on production of Prius at the joint venture New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., even though Toyota is always seeking ways to build the most appropriate production system."This brings all sorts of questions to mind. Like whether GM would get their own version of the Prius to sell? Would they license the powertrain? What does this mean for the Chevy Volt expected to come to market in the next two years? All we know is given how much Californians love the Prius it would be like building a sweet tea factory in Lufkin. [Tokyo Shimbun via Carscoop]