We've been following the development of Toyota's plant in Tupelo, Mississippi with interest since the automaker first broke ground at the site in 2006, mostly because this is the location where the Highlander Hybrid SUV or Prius hybrid hatchback were supposed to be built here in the United States. With the global economic downturn in full swing, Toyota has been hit just as hard as any other automaker, leading to major changes to the Japanese company's plans in Tupelo. Speaking to Automotive News, Steve St. Angelo, senior vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. said:
We're very committed to that plant. But we're looking at our whole portfolio and asking which products it makes sense to build or not build in North America.In other words, it's becoming increasingly unlikely that the new 2010 Prius will be built in the U.S. any time soon. Construction of the plant was halted after the exterior shell was completed back in December of 2008 and work won't begin again until Toyota has a solid plan in place on how best to utilize the facility. For what it's worth, Toyota officials tell our friends at Prius Chat that there's no truth to rumors that the plant's workers have been relocated and that the Prius will indeed be the first vehicle to roll down the assembly line in Tupelo.