The Prius, the second mass-produced
hybrid to be offered in the U.S. is currently in its third
generation, with the 2010
model year. Featuring a refined design, the vehicle sports
incredible mileage for a gasoline-driven vehicle, offering 50+ mpg in
typical driving. DailyTech recently test
drove the vehicle and was impressed not only by its fuel
efficient performance, but also its improved acceleration and
handling, thanks to numerous upgrades over the second generation
including a bigger engine, aerodynamics improvements, and new
We weren't the only ones who were impressed, though.
In August alone, Toyota sold
close to 19,000 Prius, and it's looking to ramp up production.
In the months since, it has continued to move units aggressively --
for example, last
month it was in 10 place for vehicle sales by model, shipping
approximately 13,500 units. Unsurprisingly, the top car on the
list was the Toyota Camry, though it was beat out in the light
vehicle class by the Ford F-Series and the Chevy Silverado.
Lentz speaking to Ward's Auto commented,
"I think long-term, Prius as a nameplate could even outsell
Camry as a nameplate, into this next decade. I think Prius will
become just that much stronger."
He says that the demand
for green cars will drive the Prius' ascension (this comment is
slightly ironic given the car's less
than green manufacturing process). The car still has a ways
to go, though -- to date 294,493 Camry units were delivered versus the
Prius’ 118,290. One problem is that the Prius, while in
demand, is in short supply. That should soon change, as Toyota
plans on building the vehicle soon at the halted Blue Springs, MS
plant, assuming the global economic recovery continues.
Lentz says that the reoccuring
rumor that Toyota will turn to a line of multiple Prius-like
vehicles is by no means a done deal, though he says it's his dream.
He says, though, that he's more than satisfied with the current
model, which he says has done a good job warding off competitors like
the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Honda Insight.
Despite the lower
price of the Honda Insight, he says the Prius's superior technology
(among other things the Prius gets a combined 50 mpg compared to 42
mpg for the Insight) has put it on top in sales. He states,
"Consumers buy on value and not necessarily price. While
it may be more expensive than competitors’ (hybrids, consumers)
still see more value in the (Prius)."