By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
Toyota’s top North American executive has reiterated that the Japanese automaker will build the Prius in Blue Springs, but he didn’t give a firm date.
Yoshi Inaba, president and chief operating officer of Toyota North America, said in the text of a speech late Tuesday that Toyota is “studying the possibility of moving even more production of our vehicles to North America.”
He also said that Toyota was committed to building the Prius at its unfinished Blue Springs plant when the U.S. economic recovery “hits full stride.”
His remarks reinforce statements made by Toyota and leaders in Northeast Mississippi, who have insisted that the automaker would make good on its plans to finish the $1.3 billion plant.
“What Mr. Inaba said is consistent with what we have been saying all along. We will build cars in Blue Springs; it’s just a matter of when,” said Toyota spokeswoman Barbara McDaniel. “I would say this is strong reinforcement of Toyota’s commitment since it came from the mouth of Toyota’s North American president and COO.”
Construction began on the Blue Springs plant in late 2007, but Toyota suspended work in December 2008 because of the slumping economy and sagging auto sales.
Toyota originally planned to begin production cars later this year before the delay was announced.
The Blue Springs plant, officially called Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, was expected to employ about 2,000 workers when fully operational. Suppliers were to add another 2,000 workers.