There's no question that Toyota dominates global production of hybrid-electric vehicles, but even the king of the hill has to take smaller steps sometimes.
According to the Japanese business newspaper Nikkan Kogyo, Toyota [NYSE:TM] plans to build almost three-quarters of a million hybrid vehicles next year, a rise of just 7 percent on its planned 2010 total.
The number reportedly came from production plans submitted by Toyota to parts suppliers, the newspaper said.
A year ago, amidst global shortages of 2010 Toyota Prius models, the company made plans to double its supply of nickel-metal-hydride battery packs for its Hybrid Synergy Drive models, enabling it to reach annual production of 1 million hybrids by the end of 2011.
While the car remains at the top of the Japanese sales charts, its North American sales have fallen as gasoline prices have stayed below $3 a gallon even during the peak summer driving season.
Toyota declined to comment on the report.
What does this mean for U.S. buyers? Frankly, not much. Toyota sells more hybrids in the U.S. than anywhere else, and they remain the brand's halo cars even in the aftermath of several Toyota and Lexus recalls over the last year.
U.S. dealers are hardly likely to run short of hybrids. Indeed, they may worry that with cheap gasoline, they're more likely to run short of hybrid buyers.