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Prius Supply Low With Toyota at Half Capacity

Tuesday, 19 Apr 2011 | 1:15 PM ET

Although Toyota's manufacturing plants in Japan are intact, the automaker has reduced its production facilities in the US and Japan to 50 percent capacity, Bob Carter, head of North America sales for Toyota, told CNBC Tuesday in his first interview since Japan's devastating earthquake .

2010 Prius
Source: toyota.com
2010 Prius

"We had a number of parts that we were concerned about that weren't coming into our manufacturing plants at the flows that we needed them, so we reduced production," Carter said.

"We believe we will sustain that throughout the month of May, and then we are still evaluating what the summer will look like," he explained.

The supply of the Toyota Prius , which is made only in Japan, is down to nine days. This leaves low supply at dealerships, but has not impacted sales yet, added Carter. "The history of Prius is we operate under tight supplies for the industry but when the disaster took place in Japan ... we did have to discontinue production on Prius for about two weeks. But, that was the very first [model] we put back into production."

Toyota After the Quake
A look at Toyota after the quake and hedge funds with Bob Carter, Toyota head of North American sales, and CNBC's Phil LeBeau.

"The supply chain is so complex. What we do know is our manufacturing plants are intact ... our tier one suppliers are in very good shape, but it comes down to the raw materials and some of the disruptions there [Japan], largely in the electronic area," Carter said.

In addition, he went on to say if gas prices at the pump increase to $4.50 a gallon it will change the industry. "But we see right now gas prices at about $3.60, $3.70 on a national basis. We think it's going to stablize at that level, but not retract throughout the end of the year."

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