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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: How surprising....
By sxr7171 on 7/7/2009 9:21:19 AM , Rating: 2
Yes this is how it needs to be done.

Nuclear electricity -> electrolysis -> hydrogen. Done deal.

Look at France right now. If they went hydrogen, there would be no need for middle east oil.

We on the other still use fossil fuels for electricity. So we're screwed. I guess we could keep sourcing coal from China, everything we own came from there anyway.

RE: How surprising....
By mdogs444 on 7/7/2009 9:33:41 AM , Rating: 3
I guess we could keep sourcing coal from China

I suggest you read this article:

We have enough coal here to last centuries, but the supply isn't the reason we're importing. Its nothing more than legislation & regulation from Washington. If they (politicians) truly wanted the U.S. to be a self sustaining, energy independent nation right now, we could - coal, nuclear, shale oil, OCS & ANWR drilling, hydro - and we could do it all very cost effective and most likely lower the monthly energy costs for all Americans.

Its nothing besides social engineering and political posturing for the feel good environmentalist movement - pure emotion. None of what we're doing right (banning drilling, no nuclear nuclear expansion, punishing coal, pushing solar & wind as the saviors) now is logical or fiscally responsible, its just one of those things that make you go "hmmm".

RE: How surprising....
By bhieb on 7/7/2009 10:15:05 AM , Rating: 2
Ding we have a winner.

Most of these tree hugging morons don't realize the reason we import is a simple logic and Cost Benefit. It is always best to use other's resources when possible over your own (especially when you might not like said nations that much). Why in the world would we want to tap our natural reserves first? $2.65 for fuel is actually dirt cheap so why bother. Hell until it reaches $6 or so by today's prices I still would not recommend tapping ours. IMO $10 a gallon and we will jump all over tapping our own, until then why bother.

In northern TX I can tell you Natural Gas from shale WAS booming, until recently when low and behold prices dropped again. See folks the other side of the world saw our panic artificially kept prices up, as soon as we start tapping our own they mysteriously come back down. Demand has not dropped much since the $4 per gallon days. It was only that high so they could milk us for a bit, and that is fine it is their prerogative, however if it gets too high we can and will replace em.

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