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2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Honda Insight

A pair of Japanese buyers check out the new 2010 Prius hybrid vehicle, the first hybrid to outsell all other vehicles in Japan.  (Source: BBC News)
Hybrids come in at number 1 and number 4 on Japan's sales charts

Consumers will tend to hold off their purchases if there is a new and significantly improved model coming soon. This is particularly true for electronics and automobiles. Word of the third generation Prius has been known as far back as 2006, and while the economic downturn played a significant role in cutting sales of the older Prius, the waiting game may have had a larger impact than previously thought.

Toyota had already decided to increase production of the Prius to 600,000 units per year in late May after seeing huge sales in Japan. The company has had to begin weekend production of the Prius in order to make a dent in demand. Increases in fuel economy and horsepower had led many to delay their purchases of the Prius until the 2010 model was available. However, many potential customers also switched to Honda's Insight hybrid, which topped the Japanese sales charts in April.

In the two months since, hybrids have continued their sales dominance, with the 2010 Toyota Prius and Honda Insight both posting strong sales.  The Toyota Prius seized the top spot in May, with sales of 10,915 cars.

This month, though, it set an even more impressive mark, becoming the first hybrid in Japan's history to outsell all other vehicles.  The Honda Insight's previous sales record had excluded popular mini-vehicles with engines of up to 660cc.  Those mini-vehicles were easily outsold by the Prius, thanks to sales of 22,292 units.

Honda continued to do well, with its Insight Hybrid coming in fourth place.  Honda's Fit, a fuel efficient traditional offering came in second place, with 13,016 vehicles sold.  The sales of Toyota and Honda's hybrids were helped by relatively high worldwide gas prices, which drove Japanese consumers to take fuel economy more seriously.  Japanese tax breaks have also helped convince users to switch to hybrids.

Hybrid vehicles have yet to crack the top of U.S. sales charts, but some believe it’s only a matter of time before a foreign hybrid like the Toyota Prius, or a domestic like the Ford Fusion pushes towards the top. 

All of this bodes well for those hoping of a restart of Toyota's $1.3 billion Prius assembly plant currently under construction in Blue Springs, Mississippi. Toyota has already spent over $300 million on the plant. The building shell itself is finished, but the tooling and production machinery will be installed at a later date. Parts suppliers have also halted building expansion and tooling operations until Toyota commits to a restart date.

The case for a restart is particularly strong since New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) appears destined for a shutdown. The joint venture between Toyota and General Motors will cease to produce the Pontiac Vibe, which is based on Toyota's Matrix. It also produces the popular Toyota Corolla and Toyota's Tacoma truck, production which could shift to Blue Springs. Production of the Toyota Yaris hybrid is also a possibility.



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Profitable? Hmmm
By DrKlahn on 7/6/2009 4:44:41 PM , Rating: 3
This $3000 profit factoid keeps making it into each of these articles with no mention of what the first battery changes under warranty are going to cost the manufacturer. Once this cost is included you are back to it being a loss.

A small diesel is far less complicated and returns similar mileage. But I guess it's not "green" enough to be hip with the environmentalists. Hybrids are image cars no less than the Ford truck mentioned in the article.




RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By randomposter on 7/6/2009 5:16:52 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you factor battery warranty replacement in to the total cost of the vehicle? That's the same as assuming that every single Chev Malibu will need the transmission replaced under warranty, or that every single VW Passat will need the entire suspension replaced under warranty. There's no evidence that I've seen predicting any of these outcomes.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By Lord 666 on 7/7/2009 8:06:54 AM , Rating: 2
Pre-paid warranties are considered expenses and put into the debit column. Accounting 101.

The reason why hybrid manufacturers do this is they have to cover this potential warranty expense since the battery is considered part of the emission system. Emission sytems are covered under warranty far longer than the suspension example you gave earlier.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By DrKlahn on 7/7/2009 11:08:30 AM , Rating: 1
Why? Because it is a guaranteed failure item within the warranty period that exceeds this "profit" that is being trumpeted. There is no prediction involved, it is going to happen. The specs I've seen from manufacturers are about 7 years for the battery. And hybrids will also be no better than a conventional car in regards to suspension components or transmissions. So you have all the normal maintenance with a second driveline and batteries added on top of it. And who's going to touch these used? $3k for the car and $5k for batteries?


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By mdogs444 on 7/7/2009 11:12:48 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
And who's going to touch these used? $3k for the car and $5k for batteries?

Ahh...the price of being green...means you won't have any green left.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By randomposter on 7/7/2009 12:34:00 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The specs I've seen from manufacturers are about 7 years for the battery

Do me a favour and point me to these specs. Thanks.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By Keeir on 7/7/2009 3:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why? Because it is a guaranteed failure item within the warranty period that exceeds this "profit" that is being trumpeted. There is no prediction involved, it is going to happen. The specs I've seen from manufacturers are about 7 years for the battery. And hybrids will also be no better than a conventional car in regards to suspension components or transmissions. So you have all the normal maintenance with a second driveline and batteries added on top of it. And who's going to touch these used? $3k for the car and $5k for batteries?


So many wrongs...

#1. Prius uses a NiMH battery which retails for less than 3000 dollars now for its models.

#2. Hybrids have been on the road in the US for longer than 7 years now. I'd think if "failure within warrany period" was really that likely, we would start hearing about it. After all, if 100% of something will be failed by year 10, then certainly 25%+ should be failed by year 7.

I will grant the Chevy Volt, which uses Lithium Ion type batteries and wants to use a large part of its pack, may have much more issues. The Tesla Roadster certainly will with its low quality Lithium Cobalt batteries.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By martinw on 7/8/2009 3:58:40 AM , Rating: 3
DrKlahn - a few minutes googling would have shown you that after 10 years on the market, battery failures on a Prius are almost nonexistent. I guess false internet memes never die. Overall reliability for the Prius is in fact extremely high.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By walk2k on 7/6/2009 7:27:00 PM , Rating: 3
Not one single battery has been replaced under warranty that was due to wearing out.

Some are defective, like any product, but the vast amount of them that have been replaced were due to accidents.

In Canada a taxi driver had one of the early Priuses (Priii?) with over 180,000 miles on it, no battery problems.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By matt0401 on 7/6/2009 11:29:51 PM , Rating: 3
I've read a story about a taxi driver in Washington doing 450,000 or so miles on a 2nd gen Prius until the battery started to degrade. (Read: degrade, not outright die)

I honestly think more non-hybrid vehicles need their transmissions or engines replaced than hybrid vehicles needing their batteries replaced.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By Lord 666 on 7/7/2009 8:20:30 AM , Rating: 2
Good point about accidents and hybrids. Due to the potential higher expense of repair or increased situations of being totalled out, no one has studied the insurance price difference between an 09 TDI and '10 Prius.

Even with the turbo, my insurance on the 06 TDI is lower than the 02 V6 Accord it replaced. There are other variables (mostly safety features), but having only 100hp has some impact as well. Conversely, Allstate charges $70 more per year because the navigation is built-in with my TDI.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By mdogs444 on 7/7/2009 8:28:59 AM , Rating: 2
My insurance dropped $120 every 6 months going from an 07 Accord V6 coupe to an 08 Tahoe LTZ. They said the Accord was classified under the sports car grouping. Anyway, not trying to figure out all the reasons why it dropped, just found it funny when I got my bill.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By Spuke on 7/7/2009 12:48:04 PM , Rating: 2
My Solstice GXP was $10 lower per month than my previous 04 Sentra Spec V. Go figure.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By sxr7171 on 7/7/2009 9:29:23 AM , Rating: 2
Why extra charge for navi?

Anyway it's not about horsepower, but it's about torque with those diesels.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By Lord 666 on 7/7/2009 9:56:16 AM , Rating: 2
Guess Allstate figures its a theft risk or potential accident risk. Since the navi is an optionable item on the manufacter sticker, theft/damage is covered under auto insurance. Car insurance does not cover the little portable units. Debated about getting the car without navi and ran both VIN (otherwise identical options) numbers against insurance with the difference being $70 per year.

Glad I got the navi built-in; just the other my car got busted into and lost an ipod from 2004. My neighbor got his portable GPS stolen as well. This is the very reason why I went with the unit built-in as work in NYC and have to routinely drive in. Didn't think the theft would happen in my own neighborhood.

Agreed about the overall power influencing the insurance cost, but don't forget that torque is function of HP; HP = Torque * RPM / 5,252. For the 2006 Jetta TDI, it was 100hp/177lbs. The 2009's are 140hp/236lb. Thats a massive increase, shaving 3 seconds off of the 0-60 but with same the fuel economy not to mention being much cleaner. Would be interested in seeing how the insurance numbers of the 09 TDI compare against the latest version of the Prius let alone comparing to my current car.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By usbseawolf2000 on 7/7/2009 10:44:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
A small diesel is far less complicated and returns similar mileage. But I guess it's not "green" enough to be hip with the environmentalists. Hybrids are image cars


Any iconic vehicle can be accused of being an image car. Corvette is an example. Beetle is another one. Prius is also another one.

Modern Diesel has more mechanical moving parts (Turbo, multi-gears transmission, etc...) and complicated emission components. However, Prius is very simple mechanically with about 10 moving parts including the two electric motors (without ICE). Prius has an electric transmission so there are no extra moving parts. It doesn't have belts, starter or alternator. Very simple.

There is a reason why hybrids are considered green car. It is very simple really. The emission they output are very low compared to non-hybrids including Diesels. See the comparison: http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-iii-2010-prius-mai...

Before anyone mention about the debunked misinformation from CNW Marketing Research, Prius has HV battery pack with 23 lbs Nickel. To put it into perspective, steel contains 6% Nickel. Therefore 3,000 lbs steel has 180 lbs Nickel.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By Spuke on 7/7/2009 12:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
However, Prius is very simple mechanically with about 10 moving parts including the two electric motors (without ICE). Prius has an electric transmission so there are no extra moving parts.
LOL! 10 moving parts huh? It STILL has a gas engine that operates like any every other gas engine with a bit more than "10 moving parts". The transmission is a planetary gear CVT not an "electric transmission". Actually the Prius' transaxle is quite complicated as it manages the generator motor and the gas engine.

There's nothing simple about combining multiple powerplants in a car.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By usbseawolf2000 on 7/7/2009 2:07:15 PM , Rating: 2
Right, planetary gear set with two electric motors makes up the eCVT. Those are the only moving parts. Do you know how many moving parts in your car transmission? FYI, I said "without ICE"; ICE stands for internal combustion engine.

It is an electric transmission because the eCVT multiplies torque by tapping into the electric motor. Traditional transmission changes mechanical ratio to multiply torque. They work fundamentally different.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By Spuke on 7/7/2009 2:38:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Right, planetary gear set with two electric motors makes up the eCVT. Those are the only moving parts. Do you know how many moving parts in your car transmission?
You obviously don't as a planetary CVT has more parts than a standard manual or even an automatic transmission.

quote:
It is an electric transmission because the eCVT multiplies torque by tapping into the electric motor.
It is NOT an electric transmission as no transmission "taps" into any motor. All transmissions multiply torque, that is their primary function and purpose. You don't know what you are talking about. It's called an eCVT because that's what the marketing department decided it should be called.

There's there's two things that are relatively unique to this transmission.
1. It uses gears instead of belts (belts are typical)
2. It connects to both an electric motor and a gas engine.

This is not top secret info and you could probably find this and more on priuschat.com.


RE: Profitable? Hmmm
By usbseawolf2000 on 7/7/2009 8:07:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
planetary CVT has more parts than a standard manual or even an automatic transmission.

Dude, I am a regular poster on PriusChat. I hope you find out the truth for your own sake. Automatic transmission has multiple planetary gear-sets. eCVT use just one set to connect ICE, MG1 and MG2. See my post with visual comparison with various transmission types including GM's 2-Mode:

http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-iii-2010-prius-mai...

These should help also:

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/automatic-transmissi...
http://prius.ecrostech.com/original/Understanding/...
http://eahart.com/prius/psd/
quote:
It is NOT an electric transmission as no transmission "taps" into any motor.

Once you come to a full understanding inner working of eCVT you'll come to realize my statement is correct. eCVT multiplies torque by utilizing huge torque electric motor. MG2 is also known as "torquer" for a reason. "Continuous Variable" torque is achieved by controlling the amount of electricity generated or consumed, making it a true hybrid. That makes it an electric transmission, not just a marketing term.

Play with the simulator I provided above. A light bulb should come on. Enjoy!


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