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And still more good news about the Prius

TOKYO -- And here comes yet more good news about Toyota Prius availability, following the recent flubbed news release that 75,000 more units are heading Stateside by year’s end.

Atsushi Niimi, Toyota’s global production chief, says output of the popular hybrid is not only back to normal following the March 11 earthquake, but “more than 100 percent.”

“The Prius is fine,” Niimi reassured in a recent interview.

His comments underscore how Toyota is already ramping up production of the gasoline-electric hybrid to recoup output lost when plants shut down after the spring’s devastating quake.

U.S. dealers have clamoring for the Prius ever since. And Prius sales tumbled 51 percent in May, due largely to dried up inventories of the made-in-Japan car.

But as Niimi indicates, watch for more Prii to be flooding the pipeline soon.

In fact, Niimi says volume-wise, Japanese production for most models has already been fully restored to pre-quake levels. Some models or variants are still lagging because of lingering supply shortages. Examples include the Japan-market Crown sedan and Alphard van.

But for most models, including the hot Toyota Prius, Toyota is already boosting output beyond original plans at a pace of frantic catch up that will likely last the rest of the year.

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