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Toyota Sells 1 millionth Prius in U.S.

Demand up - but so are prices, as shortages loom.

by on Apr.06, 2011

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda with the Prius V hybrid during the Detroit Auto Show preview of the microvan.

Toyota Motor Sales has reported the one-millionth sale of the Toyota Prius, the first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid vehicle sold in the United States.

“Since the Prius went on sale eleven years ago not a year has gone by when it hasn’t been the number one selling hybrid vehicle in the U.S.,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager.

Prius has become synonymous with the word hybrid, Toyota suggest, and as fuel prices have risen again, it has garnered a full 60% of the American market for gas-electric vehicles — but prices have gone up sharply, along with demand and the crisis in Japan could soon leave the maker short of demand.

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Though Prius remains the leader, the executive noted, it is now facing more competition than ever. Today, 13 different brands offer some form of gas-electric model, and most of the remaining marques, such as Volvo, plan to enter the market with some sort of hybrid offering within the next several years.


Small Car and Hybrid Sales Struggle – Yet a Few Models Exceed Expectations

Toyota Prius, Lincoln MKZ are the rare, hot hybrids.

by on Mar.29, 2011

Demand for the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has significantly exceeded expectations.

With fuel prices nudging $4 a gallon again, the first time that has happened since the energy crisis of mid-2008, industry observers had been anticipating a sharp run-up in small car and hybrid sales.

With rare exception, it isn’t happening.  Indeed, demand for pickups and big SUVs soared during February, even fuel prices made a rapid run-up.  That follows a modest decline in the fuel economy of the average vehicle sold in the U.S. last year.

But there are a few bright spots for those hoping to see Americans embrace more fuel efficient products.

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The Toyota Prius experienced a 47% surge in demand during the first two months of 2011, and indications are that this sales boom has continued in March.  The other exception is the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, the first gasoline-electric model offered by Ford Motor Co.’s luxury marque, which is handily outselling the automaker’s most optimistic expectations.

Nearly one in four of the MKZ sedans sold so far this year have come equipped with a battery-electric driveline, 762 hybrids out of the 3,343 MKZ models so far sold.


Toyota Aims to Be First With Plug-in Hybrid

But Prius Plug-in falls short of Chevy Volt performance.

by on Dec.14, 2009

The 2011 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will launch during the first half of 2010 - but only for fleet markets. Retail sales won't begin for at least a year more.

The 2011 Prius Plug-in Hybrid will launch during the first half of 2010 - but only for fleet markets. Retail sales won't begin for another year.

There’s an old adage, in the business world, about “first mover advantage.”  Deliver a breakthrough product and, even if it falls short of what eventually comes to market, you’ve got an edge on the competition.

So, after initially shrugging off plug-in hybrid technology, Toyota announced today that it will have its first model to market by the first half of 2010.  But the first batch of about 600 copies of the 2011 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will be delivered to business and government fleets. The automaker won’t start selling to consumers until sometime in 2012.

So, while the Japanese maker will get bragging rights, the real lead in the retail market will go to General Motors, which plans to deliver its own plug-in model, the Chevrolet Volt, to retail showrooms by late 2010.

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The two makers are taking a very different approach to the underlying technology, as well.  The 2011 Toyota Prius Plug-in starts out with the same basic hardware as the conventional Prius hybrid.  But it gets a larger 5.2 kWh battery and one using newer lithium-ion chemistry, rather than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in the standard Prius.