Over the weekend I read an article by Hiroko Tabuchi in The New York Times that caught me a little off-guard. I don't know why the news was so unexpected -- but it was. As you know, here in the states, auto production (with very few exceptions) has been greatly reduced or even halted in some cases. But did you know that they're working overtime at the Toyota Prius factories in Japan?
In fact, the plants that churn out the popular Prius models are working 24 hours a day. And as you can imagine, that means Toyota's suppliers -- the ones that provide all of the necessary bits and pieces that eventually become a Prius -- are also operating on a 24-hour schedule just to keep the factory up and running.
So, just how great is the demand for the latest hybrid car from Toyota? Well, if you want to buy a Prius in Japan you're going to have to wait. According to Tabuchi's article, "The company sold 110,000 Priuses in Japan in May - and there is a waiting list of several months." In addition, "Toyota executives hope the strong start by the Prius will be repeated in the United States, where some dealers have been accumulating waiting lists for more than a year."
Now, you might think that an accomplishment like this would mean that Toyota is keeping its head above the water, right? That's not entirely true. You have to remember that the Prius isn't the only model that Toyota sells. In fact, the Prius is Toyota's third-best-selling car in the United States. You might not have guessed it, but the Camry and Corolla models outsell the Prius. So, the Prius profits alone won't be enough to pull Toyota out of the red for 2009 -- but in the auto industry right now, even a little success goes a long way.