Wednesday 4 June 2014

Prius production set for Brazil?

Toyota may add production of the Prius hybrid to its facility at Sao Bernardo do Campo in Sao Paolo (Brazil), according to South American news reports.

The facility currently builds components to supply Toyota's main assembly plants in Sorocaba and Indiatuba, Brazil.

However, in 2013 Toyota's Prius Brazilian sales reached only 324 units aganst the company's full-year sales reached 175,971 units. On this basis would it justify the company laying down a line to make the Prius?

Plans for Prius would seem to hinge on Toyota Motor Corporation coming to an agreement with the Brazilian government over incentives for alternative fuel vehicle manufacturing.

The Sao Bernardo do Campo facility was Toyota's first plant outside of Japan. The plant opened in 1962 but vehicle assembly ended nearly four decades later in 2001.

In 2013, Toyota built 131,017 units in Brazil, limited to the Corolla and Etios. In 2015, the company is forecast to add the Vios alongside the Etios, increasing output to more than 176,000 units. A B-class MPV is also due for Sorocabo.

If Toyota does open the Sao Bernardo do Campo plant to assemble low-volume Prius, it would be in addition to its current production footprint. The Toyota Prius went on sale in Brazil in 2012 and is currently imported.

Toyota anticipated a small sales presence for the imported hybrid due to local import vehicle taxes, but adding local production and government incentives on alternative powertrains could increase this number.

Last year, Toyota announced that global sales of Prius had passed the three million mark, confirming its status as one of the world’s best-selling cars.

Since it first appeared as a quirky saloon in Japan in 1997, Toyota claims the car has progressed to become the undisputed standard-bearer for the high fuel and emissions efficiency of Toyota hybrid power technology.

The company added that with its progress through three generations, the Prius has benefitted from significant improvements and innovations that have made it kinder to the environment, cheaper to run and more practical to live with.

Its official CO2 emissions figures have fallen from 114 to 89g/km and the cost of its hybrid powertrain has been reduced by two thirds. In its development of the current, third generation model, Toyota filed more than 1,200 patents, demonstrating its continued commitment to technology leadership.

In the past two years Prius has grown from being a single model to embrace a family of vehicles designed and engineered to meet the needs of a wider customer base. In Europe these include Prius+, the world’s first full hybrid seven-seat MPV, and Prius Plug-in, the first Toyota to embrace rechargeable lithium-ion battery technology for extended zero-emissions electric power capability.

In North America and other world markets, the smaller Prius c/Toyota Aqua has also been launched – bringing hybrid to a market segment covered in Europe by Yaris Hybrid. South America could be the next target.

Toyota has made hybrid a core technology for the developing more environmentally efficient vehicles and it continues to make significant investments that will help secure sustainable global growth.

In the financial year ending in March 2014, Toyota stated that it expected to spend more than £5 billion (790 billion Yen) on research and development and facilities for developing hybrid and other cutting edge technologies, as well as strengthening development of new platforms and components. Projects include a new 651-hectare R&D facility and a new 12-storey powertrain development and engineering building in Toyota City.

Notwithstanding this, there are wide-ranging reports from consumers of huge variations in the fuel economies achieved from their Prius vehicles.


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