Japan order backlog puts U.S. allocation of Toyota Prius C at risk

Soaring demand for the new Toyota Prius C in Japan may create a U.S. allocation dilemma. The pint-sized hybrid is scheduled to arrive in U.S. showrooms next month.

Toyota Motor Corp. said last week that it had received 120,000 orders in Japan for the car, which went on sale Dec. 26. That is well above the domestic sales target of 12,000 a month.

A Japanese customer who orders the small hatchback today would have to wait at least until July for delivery, spokeswoman Amiko Tomita said.

Toyota is unsure how shipments to the United States might be affected by the car’s huge backlog of orders in Japan.

“We haven’t set a sales plan for the United States yet, and so we can’t say how much the affect would be,” Tomita said.

In the past, Toyota has diverted Prius production to meet strong demand in Japan, leading to shortages in the United States.

The Yaris-sized small hybrid, called the Aqua in Japan, is made by Toyota subsidiary Kanto Auto Works Ltd. at a plant in the northern prefecture of Iwate.

Tomita declined to comment on Prius C production plans. But Japan’s Nikkei business newspaper reported late last month that Toyota aims to boost production of the car to 320,000 units a year, from an earlier plan of 240,000.

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