Toyota announced Thursday that it will begin manufacturing its iconic Prius hybrid in the United States for the first time.
Marianna Day Massey/ZUMA Press/NEWSCOM/FILE
According to the press release, the Mississippi plant was originally to build Highlander SUVs. Those will now be built at a Toyota plant in in Princeton, Ind. Currently, the Princeton plant now assembles Tundra pickups, whose production will be consolidated at another plant in San Antonio, Texas.
Additionally, the company will be shut down production of its Tundras and Sequoia SUVs for three months, so that it can sell off its backed-up inventory.
The moves are a response to a sudden shift this year in American car behavior. As gas prices have spiked, the driving public has been eschewing gas-guzzlers and embracing hybrids.
According to the Detroit Free Press, sales of the Tundra (whose 4WD, 5.7-liter version gets 13 miles per gallon in the city) fell by 52.9 percent in June. For the year, sales are down 7.6 percent. Sales of the Sequoia (also getting 13 m.p.g. city) are higher than last year, but dealer inventory is also high.