Due to Surging Demand, Hybrid Buyers Told to Wait

Customers told they would have to wait between two weeks and four months, depending on where they live, to get a gasoline-electric hybrid Honda Civic or Toyota Prius are frustrated that automakers can’t meet demand. Not that the automakers are happy about it either. Sales of both vehicles fell in April as Toyota and Honda could not keep up with surging demand accompanying skyrocketing gasoline prices.

“We sold down our inventory. We’re down to a two-day supply,” Jim Press, Toyota U.S. President, told reporters. “The fact is, demand has never been higher.”

Press attributes the constraint on Prius sales to the re-allocation of parts to the company’s new hybrid Camry model, which went on sale late last month. In regard to lower sales figures for the hybrid Honda Civic, company spokesperson Sage Marie simply stated that “sales were purely constrained by supply.”

While customers may be aggravated by extended wait times for such vehicles, analysts aren’t surprised that Toyota and Honda can’t ramp up production depending on the vagaries of gas prices. “They can’t turn that quickly,” says HybridCars.com editor Bradley Berman. “You can’t speed up a pipeline of production in three weeks.”

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2006-05-09-hybrid-shortage-usat_x.htm