Click above for high-res gallery of the Toyota Prius

If the Prius went mainstream when Toyota bumped production to 280,000 worldwide units per year in 2007, the fuel efficient hybrid is now primed to kick project green to the next level. When Toyota begins producing the next gen Prius, it'll do so with more factory space than ever dedicated to the universal symbol for fuel efficiency, making it possible to produce 480,000 vehicles per year. The Japan-based Tsutsumi factory, which currently builds five different vehicles, will stop making the JDM Wish minivan to allow for more Priuses. Even more Prius capacity will be available beginning in 2010, when the Japanese automaker's new Mississippi plant comes online and begins to produce more of the hybrid.

With the meteoric rise in gas prices, the Prius has gone from a yuppie green statement for politicians and suburbanites to a means for the masses to travel around town without breaking the bank. $4 per gallon gas and a continued lack of competition means Toyota could probably double production again and still sell every Prius it makes.

[Source: Automotive News - subs. req'd]

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