2010 Toyota Prius – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Japan earthquake and tsunami has left the vast majority of Japanese auto plants without parts or power at least temporarily, and the good folks of California are beginning to feel the pinch. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Toyota Prius is in very short supply in The Golden State, leading many car buyers to move up their purchases in fear of not being able to get their precious hybrid at a later date.

It's no surprise California would feel the pinch of limited Prius inventory first, as the state is the largest market for the ultra-efficient hatch. Many dealers have less than a two week supply, while others have zero models in stock. Meanwhile, Toyota restarted the Prius plant late last week in an effort to keep the popular hybrids flowing to the U.S. and around the world. But for the short term, the automaker is running the line at about half its normal pace, and the plant was shut down on Wednesday to gauge parts availability.

Given the fact that the Prius plant is one of the only Japanese facilities even up and running right now, California dealers will likely continue to see a trickle of new models hitting their showrooms. In the short term, the Prius supply issue could actually deteriorate, with May inventories looking worse than April. Just as big a concern is the fact that other plants still haven't begun producing vehicles, which means that the situation playing out in California with the Prius could soon affect many Japanese autos in dealerships around the world.

Review: 2010 Toyota Prius
  • Review: 2010 Toyota Prius
  • Review: 2010 Toyota Prius

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