The super-best number one awesome automaker from the land of the rising sun is planning to flood the world with smug, cranking up output of its gas-electric Prius Hybrid 70% by the end of next year, according to the Nikkan Kogyo industry daily. If Toyota achieves its goal, annual Prius output would be somewhere north of 480,000 units. We don't question their ability to succeed, but will battery and hybrid electronics suppliers be able to keep up with Toyota's ambitions?
Jalopnik Snap Judgment: Our "snap" guess is yes. Given that Toyota has long been upfront about its goal of building a million hybrids a year by 2010, we have to give the company the benefit of the doubt on its supplier chain. Remember, the Toyota Manufacturing Process (TMP) actually started the concept of lean manufacturing and just-in-time supply. To that end, the company is building its own battery facility, reducing exposure in that most critical of hybrid components. And with plans to make room for more Priuses at a Japanese factory and to build them in the US at a new plant in Mississippi, Toyota appears to be taking steps to alleviate pent-up Prius demand.
So, half a million Priuses a year? Despite the mere thought bringing blood flowing out of our uber-enthusiast ears, we have to give Toyota credit for ratcheting supply up when demand exceeds it on this product, as opposed to being forced to ratchet supply down when demand drops like a rock. That's always been the problem our poor, poor US automakers have had — always trying to wring every sale out of a product in an attempt to meet and beat the U.S. financial markets quarterly expectations. Now our only question is — how will the world cope with so much new smug? [Automotive News, Sub. Req.]