We noted way back in September of 2004 that Toyota had reached an agreement with Chinese automaker FAW to begin manufacturing the Prius in China by late 2005. Well, it's about as late in 2005 as you can get, and finally we have word that production is now underway. This is the first Prius plant outside of Japan, and the auto is being built for local purchase.
The Toyota-FAW joint venture plans to sell only about 3,000 Priuses in China in all of 2006; this low figure is less surprising when one learns that the price will be "between 288,000 yuan and 302,000 yuan ($35,680-$37,410), compared with around $22,000 in Japan and North America."
Labor is cheaper, shipping is cheaper (produced locally) so why are the cars 60+% more expensive?
Because of the market! It's not a secret that people pay much more to get a similar car in China, and often with an inferior quality.