Toyota’s Prius Becomes A Global Top Three.

PriusSince the start of Prius sales in Japan in 1997, Toyota has sold 4 million hybrid-electric vehicles worldwide, including 1.5 million in the U.S., the company said May 22.

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.

Has the day of the hybrid Electric Vehicle finally arrived? The latest global sales figures for Toyotas  EV hybrid “Prius” suggest that it has, albeit helped by high gasoline prices in the USA, and favourable tax treatment in Japan following last year’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear calamity at Fukushima, that went on to force the closure of all of Japan’s nuclear reactors. With crude oil prices slipping again in response to a slowing global economy led by Europe, it is presumed that some of the attraction of the Prius will wane, but for now Toyota’s Prius has broken out of the niche EV category.

The Prius first went on sale in japan in 1997, before going on sale worldwide starting in the year 2000. Early adopters faced a wide range of media scepticism, though the disastrous misadventure in Iraq quickly boosted crude oil prices globally, and the EV hybrid gradually came into public acceptance.

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Below today’s news release from Japan. In its latest form, there’s plenty of use of REEs.

“Prius is a Latin word meaning "before". According to Toyota, the name was chosen because the Prius was launched before environmental awareness became a mainstream social issue.”

Toyota Prius Escapes Niche to Surge Into Global Top Three
By Alan Ohnsman and Yuki Hagiwara – May 29, 2012 2:08 AM GMT

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Prius, a niche oddity when it went on sale 15 years ago, jumped to the world’s third best-selling car line in the first quarter as U.S. demand and incentives in Japan turned the hybrid into a mainstream hit.

Prius sales more than doubled as Toyota extended the name to a four-model “family” of vehicles at the same time that rebates and tax breaks in Japan are saving buyers the equivalent of $2,500 or more. In the quarter, sales soared to 247,230, trailing only Toyota’s Corolla, at 300,800, and Ford Motor Co. (F)’s 277,000 Focus sales.

—-“It proves Prius wasn’t a fluke, that there’s a long-term market for hybrids,” said Eric Noble, president of the Car Lab, an automotive consultancy in Orange, California.

In the aftermath of last year’s earthquake and tsunami that cut parts and auto production for Japanese carmakers, the government in December began encouraging purchases of fuel- efficient autos to reverse sagging domestic deliveries.

—-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.

2011 facelift

In mid 2011 (for the 2012 model year), the third-generation Prius Liftback receives modest style and equipment changes. The exterior changes include updated headlamps, revised tail lamps, plus a distinctive front fascia and bumper. The Prius can be equipped with an updated infotainment system featuring the optional Toyota Entune suite of connectivity features. Other updates include a 6.1-inch touch-screen, AM/FM CD player unit, a USB port for iPod connectivity, auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and streaming audio. The Prius also includes a solar panel on the roof of the car, which can only provide enough power to run the ventilation fan while the car is parked, to keep the interior cooler in sunny warm conditions. For the U.S. market only the Prius Two, Three, Four and Five will be offered. The premium Prius Five model's Advanced Technology Package includes the Premium HDD Navigation System, plus the Head-up Display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System and Lane Keep Assist. The Pre-Collision System retracts the front seatbelts and applies the brakes in certain conditions when it determines that a crash is unavoidable. Lane Keep Assist can help the driver stay within the lane.  The U.S. 2012 model year includes Toyota's Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS), which is designed to alert pedestrians, the blind, and others of the vehicle's presence due to significant noise reduction typical of a hybrid vehicle traveling at low speeds in all-electric mode.


  1. of course it is. It is a great car! It’s funny…people still get in my car and say “wow! It is roomy! Hey, does it drive like a regular car?” Great car.
    A plus: Great Western is has a long term relationship with Aichi Steel– a toyota supplier…
    a win win for me!

  2. Fran-
    The funny thing is people who don’t “get it” don’t realize the Prius drives just like a regular car. No plugging in. No hardship. I know people talk about the price, but you get Camry (starting at 22k) and Prius (starting at 24k)… the car is basically the same level of comfort and bells and whistles.
    As far as I am concerned, there is no reason all cars should not be hybrids. My favorite wish would be a hybrid deisel. That would be great. As far as strictly EVs go… that is a tough call. It is perfect solution for those who travel less that 25-30 mi a day. (which most people do) The infrastructure needs to be built out. Same with Nat gas vehicles. Oooh, a hybrid nat gas vehicle! That would be exciting.
    Hopefully things are changing. America has had a bizarre relationship with the car and for some reason, people still think a car “defines” you or says something profound about you instead of a mode of transportation. Did the pioneers trick out their wagaons back in the day? No. We have Detroit and Madison Avenue to thank for that.

  3. As a car guy who drives a Shelby Mustang I was greatly embarrassed when the rental company presented me with a Prius as an “upgrade” on an economy car that I had reserved was unavailable. I was so self conscious that I would announce to strangers that it was a rental, not my own car. After watching the unique center console indicate electric power arrows flowing one way then the other as it went seamlessly from battery to internal combustion drive, I was flabbergassed at fuel consumption readouts of 67-82-99 miles per gallon! I put several hundred miles on the car that day and used a total of 7 gallons. I turned the car in telling anyone within ear shot that the Prius, while serious lacking in the style department, was about the coolest car I had ever driven. I’m thrilled it’s getting the world wide acceptance it deserves.

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