Toyota, Back on top with Prius

Toyota Prius: world’s third best-selling car

By Alan Ohnsman and Yuki Hagiwara – May 28, 2012

The Prius surge, after two years of recalls and production disruptions, propelled the Toyota City, Japan-based company back into the global sales lead for the first three months of the year. The hybrid line also gives the Toyota brand three of the top 10 models in the U.S. so far this year, including its midsize Camry.

In the quarter, sales soared to 247,230, trailing only Toyota’s Corolla, at 300,800, and Ford Motor Co.’s 277,000 Focus sales.

Rebates of as much as 100,000 yen ($1,258) are available from a 300 billion yen fund for qualified cars, including the Prius hatchback, wagon, plug-in and Aqua subcompact, sold in the U.S. and elsewhere as the Prius c. Tax savings further reduce the purchase price by another 100,000 yen or more. The average price for a Prius in Japan is about 2.5 million yen and around $25,000 in the U.S.

The Aqua subcompact, sold in the U.S. and elsewhere as the Prius C, has become the car of the moment in Japan, helping more than triple Prius family sales in the country to 175,080 in the first quarter, from 52,507 last year. While funds for the rebates may run out in July if the government doesn’t extend them, the tax reductions continue through 2015.

“It was good that introduction of Aqua and the start of government subsidies happened almost at the same time,” said Koichi Sugimoto, senior analyst at BNP Paribas in Tokyo. . . . He added that there’s more to the success than the government incentives. “Toyota is introducing good vehicles and assuming it will maintain a certain volume even after the subsidies end,” he said.

The Prius line topped other high-volume car models including Hyundai Motor Co., Elantra, Volkswagen AG’s Golf, Ford’s Fiesta, General Motor Co.’s Cruze and Honda Motor Co.’s Civic, according to the companies.

Sales of Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Hino and Daihatsu vehicles grew 18 percent to 2.49 million in the quarter, Toyota said in a U.S. regulatory filing this month. That put it ahead of Detroit – based GM’s 2.28 million and VW’s 2.16 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

‘Clearly Coming Back’

“You are seeing a company that is clearly coming back,” said Efraim Levy, equity analyst with Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ in New York, who rates Toyota’s American depositary receipts a hold. “For Prius to sell in that kind of volume, something that’s been a niche product, it’s an achievement.”

In the U.S., typically Toyota’s top market for Prius, sales jumped 42 percent in the first quarter, and 56 percent through April to a record 86,027. U.S. sales of the model since its 2000 introduction, including the new variations, total 1.18 million vehicles, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Global sales increased 125 percent.

Prius sets a standard of success for alternatively powered cars, including Nissan Motor Co. (7201)’s all-electric Leaf and GM’s Chevrolet Volt, which has a gas-burning generator on board to extend the range of the electric-drive car.

The sales pace for Prius isn’t likely to be matched soon by any other hybrid models, said John Wolkonowicz, an independent analyst in Boston who specializes in automotive history.

While the current rate suggests U.S. drivers may want to buy 250,000 or more Prius models in 2012, the region may not get more than its planned 220,000 units.

“I’ve ordered additional production,” Bob Carter, Toyota’s group vice president of U.S. sales, said in a May 7 interview. “I’m confident we’ll get additional production, but globally we’re seeing high demand, particularly in Japan.”

see full article at

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-29/toyota-prius-escapes-niche-to-surge-into-global-top-three.html


The 2012 Toyota Prius C has been awarded the coveted Top Safety Pick Award by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

May 15, 2012

the IIHS tests are highly-respected within the automotive industry and test a variety of crash scenarios, including those from the front, rear and side; the compact hybrid became the third member of the Prius family to be awarded the Top Safety Pick.

see

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1076207_2012-toyota-prius-c-malibu-eco-get-iihs-top-safety-pick-award