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In a move that's quickly becoming a distinct sign of the times, Toyota has officially announced that it will delay the launch of U.S.-built Toyota Prius at its upcoming Mississippi plant. The plant near Tupelo, which has so far cost the Japanese automaker about $300 million, is about 90% complete but has yet to be fully staffed in preparation of Job One, so it makes sense to suspend its start date instead of shuttering an already operating assembly line elsewhere. Workers already hired to fill various positions will not be let go. The decision was reportedly made just last night, though rumors of a delay of the plant's impending launch have been flying for weeks.

Toyota will launch an all-new Prius at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show. The 2010 Toyota Prius is expected to go on sale later in 2009, and with the delay of production in Mississippi, all new Prius hybrids will continue to be imported from Japan.

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[Source: Reuters]