You'll have to wait four months if you want a Prius, Toyota Motor Co.'s first mass-produced hybrid. People were skeptical about the commercial viability of the car when it was introduced in 1997. Today Toyota can't meet the demand. The Tokyo automaker produced 300,000 in 2005 and plans to ramp production to 400,000 in 2006. The Prius gets 60 mpg in the city and 51 on the highway, according to the U.S. government.
Toyota has been leaning hard on its suppliers for more parts. Company executives denied speculation that the automaker has been locking up suppliers in order to maintain its domination over the hybrid market. Ford Motor Co. officials grumbled to the Wall Street Journal that they are having trouble getting hybrid parts because Toyota is squeezing the supply. Hybrids were effectively novelty vehicles until gas prices soared.