What!? A GM-Branded Prius?

If you can’t beat them, then buy them:

Bloomberg: Toyota Motor Corp. may offer to supply a version of its Prius hybrid car to General Motors Corp. during a meeting between the companies’ chief executives, two people familiar with the plan said.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda and GM’s Fritz Henderson will meet in Michigan in August said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan isn’t public. A GM-badged car based on the Prius is among the options for new products at a jointly owned factory in California after GM said it would end assembly of the Pontiac Vibe there earlier than planned, they said.

“After extensive analysis, GM and Toyota could not reach an agreement on a future product plan that made sense for all parties,” GM North America President Troy Clarke said in a statement.

A version of the world’s top-selling hybrid car may yet help GM win U.S. customers. Toyota is considering the California plant as a Prius production site after shelving plans to make the gasoline-electric car in Mississippi, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg earlier this month.

Both General Motors and Toyota deny this report. This reminds us of the H-P iPod deal that went nowhere. H-P slapped its logo on an iPod, and nobody cared. Unless GM managed to make the Prius uniquely its own (insert joke here) then we doubt anyone would want a “GM” Prius.

Not that the odds are particularly favourable for this anyway. Jim Hall, an analyst quoted in the story, says it’d be unusual for Toyota to give away some of its most important technology.

GM only has one hybrid car in its line up now that it’s sold off the Saturn division. GM plans on changing that in the next 3 years, so Toyota’s technology might not be very valuable. The plug-in hybrid Volt launches next year, and by 2012, GM thinks it will have 14 hybrid models.

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