Toyota's third-generation Prius couldn't come at a better time for the automaker. Sales of just about every one of the company's models are down, and the Aishi, Japan-based automaker lost $7.7 billion last quarter. To make matters worse, sales of the second-generation Prius hit a wall in April, with sales in the U.S. dipping to 8,385 units, down 65% versus April 2008 levels. But the ebb in that model's sales could have a lot more to do with the imminent arrival of the 50 miles-per-gallon 2010 Prius, which is now in production.

Early reports coming out of Toyota are that the 2010 Prius is primed for big sales. There are already 80,000 global orders for the Prius, and some reports (which Toyota has so far denied) have 110,000 orders of the King of Hybrids. Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco says the company is "considering steps to increase production to meet demand." Meanwhile, rumors have been flying that Prius facilities were back on overtime, with reports from the Kyodo News saying that Toyota has increased Prius production from 43,000 units to 50,000. Toyota has squashed those rumors so far, but if the brisk demand for the 2010 Prius remains steady, increased production is all but inevitable.

[Source: The Detroit News]

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