DENNIS SEID: Prius ride takes us for another spin

News flash – The Prius is going to be built in Bangalore. Or is that Bangor?
Maybe it’s Birmingham. Is that Alabama or England?
With all the rumors about what is or isn’t going on with the Toyota plant in Blue Springs (Mississippi, not Missouri) it’s hard to tell what’s truth or fiction.
Probably somewhere in between, as the saying goes.
Clearly, Toyota has a public relations monster to rein in.
The longer that vehicles aren’t being made in Blue Springs, the more rumors, whispers, leaks and commentary will surface.
Hey, did you hear that Toyota is seeking bids to see how much it will cost to tear down the facility?
Yes, it’s crazy.
So what do we make of the recent reports that Toyota is looking to build a different vehicle at Blue Springs, and that it will build the Prius elsewhere?
The latest story has Toyota looking to build the Prius in Fremont, Calif., at a plant it jointly runs with General Motors.
The San Jose Mercury News and California officials are already salivating at the possibility.
“Toyota Motor recently scuttled plans to build Prius hatchbacks at a Mississippi factory,” the paper wrote. “Analysts say it could be more efficient for Toyota to build the Prius in Fremont rather than face the expenses and time to complete the half-finished Mississippi factory.”
And this note on Thursday. GM will end production of the Pontiac Vibe at the plant in August. The Vibe is the same as the Toyota Matrix.
GM said it’s talking to Toyota about a replacement vehicle for the factory. A Toyota spokesman said no decision had been made about future products at the plant.
Interesting.
So what’s the plan?
Read Toyota’s official responses, and they all say about the same thing – the plan is to build the Prius in Mississippi. The automaker has every intention of building the Prius in Mississippi.
I don’t doubt their sincerity.
But read again this direct quote from March: “There are no plans to make any vehicle change for Mississippi at this time. As for any future decisions, Toyota always considers stability for its plants locally and viability for the company globally.”
That leaves an opening for Toyota, a possibility that it might not build the Prius here and we get to build something else.
Remember, Blue Springs was going to build the Highlander. Now it’s the Prius.
Maybe the third time is the charm.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1588 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

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