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Toyota is often seen as the automaker that can do no wrong, but the giant Japanese company has just released official sales and profit data for the year that's ending, and it's not all roses. Amazingly, 2008 will mark Toyota's first-ever annual operating loss since the brand's inception. Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe calls these times "an unprecedented emergency," and "a crisis unlike the crises of the past." This just one year after issuing the company's largest profit ever last year. Things have apparently gotten so bad that the automaker has - and we're not making this up - unplugged its electric hand dryers.

What does this mean for such popular picks as the hybrid Toyota Prius? We've already reported that the automaker will postpone the opening of its plant in Mississippi that was slated to assemble the Prius in the US, but Toyota's profit warnings affect much more than just that one plant. When it's all said and done, Toyota's goal is to assemble 60 percent of the cars for the US market right here in the States. That figure dropped down to 55.2 percent last month, and it's expected to drop further when the 2010 Prius gets up to full production capacity in Japan.

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

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