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Toyota Exec: Prius Supply Low Due To Clunker Program

Toyota Chairman and President Akio Toyoda said that the supply of the company's Prius model is running tight because of the Cash-for-Clunker program.

Toyoda spoke at the Center for Automotive Research conference in Traverse City, Michigan.

In his first comments in the US since taking over at the Japanese auto maker in June, Toyoda said inventories are down to a 6 to 7 day supply. Toyota is taking hard look at whether to raise auto production because of the clunker program.

Toyoda outlined his vision for the auto maker and industry in a speech at the Center for Automotive Research conference in Traverse City, Michigan. Toyoda also said that Toyota and the U.S. auto market will bounce back and be stronger than ever.

"My first objective as new president is to put Toyota back on the right track so we can full contribute to every region around the world, including the U.S.," said Toyoda.

Toyoda, an avid race car driver, announced the company is fast-tracking plans for an affordable sports car it will launch in the next few years. The sports car will be a joint venture with Subaru. Toyota is still unsure if it will badge the new sports car as a Toyota or Scion model, according to Toyoda.

Toyoda said, "I want to see Toyota build cars that are fun and exciting to drive. I am what you would call in America, 'a car nut'. I am passionate about driving and I race as well."

With Toyota U.S. sales down more than 33% this year and the company expecting to lose $4.7 Billion this year, Toyoda says the auto maker will rebound by stressing quality and focusing on what customers want.

The Japanese auto maker plans to launch a plug-in hybrid vehicle for fleet customers later this year and a pure electric vehicle by 2012. Toyoda added, "We're also making great progress on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hope to make this technology available and affordable for customers within the next half dozen years."

Toyoda went on to say that he believes diesel powertrains will be more expensive to develop in the future than developing hybrid engines will be.

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