The lack of inventory, with many dealers reporting as little as one day’s worth of Prius cars on their lots, led to a whopping 61% drop in July sales in the US, which is the lowest since 2004. And that’s significant because the US accounts for almost half of the all Prius models sold worldwide, which makes it Toyota’s most important market for its compact hybrid.
Moreover, even with these shortages, the Prius remains Toyota’s 3rd best-selling car, behind the Corolla and the Camry.
Before the earthquake, Toyota’s target for the Prius in 2011 was to exceed the 2007 record of 181,221 unit, but the disruption in production has made that impossible. However, according to Toyota’s senior vice president for US sales, the Prius can still exceed 2010’s 140,928 cars. And that’s because the production of both the Prius and the Lexus hybrids is coming back on line faster than initially predicted.
Moreover, the Prius family will soon expand to include three more models: the plug-in Prius, the Prius V estate and, later, the Prius C compact car. Toyota’s US president of sales, Jim Lentz, went as far as predicting that “by the end of this decade, the Prius nameplate will be the number one passenger car nameplate in the industry”.