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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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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.

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