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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 Keeir on 7/7/2009 1:05:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
If you can't see the problem, you are the problem.!! When are you yanks going to get real? For F#$%'s sake, an F150 is a good car? Most people who buy them for their usfulness?


Great, yet another Holier than Thou European who probably has never once lived in the United States for an extended period of time.

Get over it folks. American cars are designed for the American lifestyle and the American Cost of Fuel.

If Europe had similar roads and similar fuel costs, they would choose the -same- cars. Period. End of Story.

But no, Europe has tiny little streets from before the Auto Age. Europe has sin taxes on gasoline which double to triple the price of gasoline from its actual price. So of course, many Europeans choose the smaller more efficient cars.

Right now, the "normal" price of gasoline without taxes is less than 2.50 per gallon. The cost difference movings from a Compact (Honda Civic) thats gets 30 mpg to a Full-Sized (US Honda Accord) that gets 25 mpg is all of $250 dollars a year. Less than a single dollar a day. The price to go all the way to that 20 mpg F-150? Only $625 dollars a year, less than 2 dollars a day .

Here's a great example. I like to go Biking on the Weekend. If I had a F-150, I could carry 4+ Bikes at the drop of the hat. Try doing that with any type of car. If would only take 5-6 trips a year to justify the extra expense of the fuel all year long.

Yes, I know, European gas prices are more than 5 dollars a gallon. Your governments tax and re-tax heavy/large cars out of existence. But you know, the reason they have to tax and re-tax and penalize the large cars in Europe? If they didn't Europeans would drive the Large Cars, just like Americans.



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