While the auto industry as a whole has struggled, Honda and Toyota have been experiencing new international success, thanks to their new 2010 Insight and Prius hybrid vehicles. With a healthy profit margin of $3,100 per vehicle, these lean, clean, green small cars are selling out and acting as a bailout for their respective companies, while other models and competitors languish.
In Japan, Honda's Insight already became the first hybrid vehicle to top overall sales charts. Now Toyota's Prius has a success story of its own on its hands.
Earlier this year Toyota, battered by the economic downturn had to stop production and assembly at many of its plants in an effort to reduce output and lower inventories. However, thanks to the better than expected demand for the Prius, thanks in part to rising summer gas prices, Toyota is putting these plants back in full-time action.
States Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco, "We are considering steps to increase production to meet demand."
Both in Japan and in many states in the U.S., consumers get tax breaks for purchasing fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles, making them a smart buy when coupled with higher gas prices. Additional tax break measures which should sweeten the deal even more are on the books in both Japan and the U.S.
Reportedly, Toyota initially planned to internationally produce 42,000 to 43,000 vehicles per month, but has since raised its plans to 50,000 vehicles per month. Toyota says it has received at least 80,000 orders for the third-generation Prius, but declined to comment on reports that orders have since soared to 110,000 units. It is obvious, though, that in this bleak auto economy these well-designed hybrids are a rare bright spot.