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Oleg Burunov
Oleg Burunov
Oleg Burunov is a Moscow-based correspondent who has been working at Sputnik since 2015 and specialises in foreign affairs and defence.

Grand Theft Hybrid: Toyota Prius Cars Targeted for Platinum Components Across Japan

Toyota Prius news

Last year, platinum prices jumped significantly after the Western countries imposed a spate of sanctions on Russia, one of their major producers, leaving the global precious metals market in an uncertain condition.

Thieves in Japan continue to target Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrids for parts containing platinum and palladium amid high prices for these rare metals. According to local police, last year saw at least 173 thefts of mufflers or catalytic converters in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, 16 times more than in 2021.

About 90% of such thefts target older models of the Prius fitted with components, such as exhaust emission control device, that contain more platinum and palladium than many other cars, police added.

The developments come after a significant spike in prices for these two scarce metals following the February 24, 2022 start of Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, which prompted the US and its allies to slap packages of sanctions on Moscow.

This led to disruptions of supply chains and resulted in soaring inflation and energy prices worldwide. Russian President Vladimir Putin noted last year that the sanctions backfired on those who imposed them.

The price tag for palladium finally plummeted by the end of last year but remains still well above what it was during the last decade. Platinum prices also increased early last year before declining, but then jumped again sharply last quarter.

Russia currently accounts for about 40% of the world’s freshly mined palladium, while also remaining a major platinum manufacturer.

Image credit: Wikimedia

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  1. Some context:
    Rank Country/Region Platinum production (kilograms)
    World 180,000
    1 South Africa 130,000
    2 Russia 22,000
    3 Zimbabwe 15,000

  2. That’s interesting. Thank you.
    Let’s keep in mind how countries like SA and Zimbabwe are corrupted by the global elite. Looks like the Russia elite doesn’t want to play ball.
    Maybe they all wake up to the fact that elite can only be elite, if there is a willing subservient class. Willing means at least well fed. And the feeding will be increasingly difficult to eventuate with the elite’s fractions squeezing fractional profit.
    I think the ‘elite’ has missed something important.


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