Toyota Ramps Up Prius Production

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. is revving up production of its hit Prius to meet better-than-expected demand for the latest version of the world's top-selling hybrid, the Japanese automaker said Wednesday.

"We are considering steps to increase production to meet demand," Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said.

Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, declined comment on public broadcaster NHK TV's report that overtime was resuming at its factories.

Toyota was among the Japanese automakers forced to halt production at its assembly plants earlier this year to reduce production and lower inventories after being hammered by the global financial crisis.

But production has returned to normal at Toyota and other plants, starting from this month.

The Prius and the rival hybrid offering from Japan's No. 2 automaker Honda Motor Co. are rare bright spots in the languishing Japanese auto market because of growing consumer interest in mileage and the environment.

Tax breaks on ecological vehicles that started in April are making the Prius and other green cars a good deal for Japanese consumers. Additional incentives may win legislative approval soon, boosting hybrid sales in Japan later this year.

Toyota says it has received 80,000 orders for the third-generation Prius, which rolled out earlier this month. It declined comment on a Kyodo News report that such orders had jumped to 110,000, and Toyota is raising Prius production from its initial plan for 42,000 to 43,000 vehicles a month to 50,000.

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