Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has announced that it will boost monthly production of the Prius gas-electric hybrid sedan from approximately 10,000 units per month to 15,000, in order to meet global demand. Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A., Inc., announced today that it is negotiating with TMC to significantly increase its North American allocation of the Prius for model-year 2005, to help meet the vehicle’s unprecedented demand in the U.S. market. “When the all-new second-generation Prius was launched in mid-October of last year, we had an annual sales plan of about 36,000 units,” said Don Esmond, Toyota Division senior vice president and general manager. “Two months later, in December 2003, we announced a 31-percent increase in our sales plan to 47,000 units annually, and promised that if we needed more, we would build more. Clearly, the extraordinary response to Prius took us by surprise. With demand far-outstripping supply, customers have been forced to wait many months for delivery. Our announcement to increase production by fifty percent, should prove to our dealers and our customers that we are good on our word.” The additional 5,000 units per month will be built on an existing assembly line at an existing production facility in Japan. The specific location of the plant will be announced at a later date. Production will begin during the first half of 2005. Prius (the name comes from the Latin “to go before”) was the world’s first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid vehicle when introduced in Japan in 1997. In 2000, it was introduced in the U.S. market and has since become the best-selling hybrid vehicle in the world. The new Prius is the first Toyota product to employ Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, gas-electric hybrid power-train technology. The new system produces more power from both the gasoline engine and the electric motor, giving the Prius acceleration comparable to the Camry midsize sedan. It carries an estimated EPA rating of 60 MPG in city driving and 51 MPG on the highway, with a combined EPA mileage estimate of 55 MPG compared to 48 MPG for the previous-generation Prius. And like the previous model, Prius never needs to be plugged in for recharging. In addition to its best-in-class fuel economy, the new Prius emits 30 percent fewer emissions than the previous model. That equates to producing nearly 90 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle. Prius has been certified as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) and an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) category vehicle in California and those states adopting California standards.