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The Japanese earthquake-tsunami disaster, combined with high gas prices, appears to be sparking a run on Toyota Prius and other Japanese hybrid and high-mileage cars.

Dealers say they are starting to run low on some models, the Detroit News reports, quoting one dealer official, Dianne Whitmire, fleet manager of Carson Toyota in Carson, Calif., as saying, "I'm getting 30 to 40 requests a day for (Toyota) Priuses," compared with five to 10 a day a month ago."

Adds the News:

Since Friday's earthquake, she's hearing from people as far away as Northern California and San Diego. "People are scrambling for Priuses."Most Toyota dealers expect shortages of Priuses and other cars built only in Japan if production stoppages are prolonged.

Wow. That didn't take long. The earthquake only happened last Friday and already there's talk of running short on cars. The problem will worsen as Japanese production stoppages and lower production schedules in the U.S. take hold.

"We still have a few here at the Quality Car Sales lot but we have been getting more calls on them as the days after the problems in Japan pass. People just don't know what is going to happen down the road so they are scooping up all of the used ones they can find!" (Ed Borzyn,  used car manager at Quality Car Sales in Butler Pa. tells us.)

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