Prius: Over 1 million sold

Posted by: David Welch on May 15, 2008

Most industry milestones make for pretty weak news events. Like when Toyota passes General Motors in global sales, or when trucks became more than half the U.S. car market, they are simply small reminders of some greater change that was barreling down the freeway for years. Toyota’s news that it has sold more than 1 million Priuses globally as of the end of April is no exception.

But look a little deeper and there are some other numbers that show the real significance of the Prius. Almost 60% of those sales are in North America. The car has sold in nearly twice the volume here that it did in Japan, where Toyota really is king and gasoline is even more expensive. What’s more telling is that Prius sales in the U.S. are up 21% this year and were up 70% last year to 181,000 cars. That’s more than Ford sells of its Fusion, which is a pretty nice family sedan. At the same time Camry hybrid sales are up 36% this year.

Granted Toyota has cut the price of the Prius in recent model years. And there is an open question as to the car’s real profit haul (if there is any) for the company. But one thing is for sure. Toyota has captured the imagination of American car buyers in a way that Apple’s iPod has engendered the love of music fans. The company’s is ramping up volume and therefore lowering costs of the technology. That makes it one of the few carmakers who are prepared for expensive oil and tougher fuel economy regulations. This is one big bet that paid off.

Reader Comments

Karl

May 15, 2008 12:23 PM

It's amazing that Toyota continues to get so much positive press regarding their cars & their company!! Perhaps the ones who continue writing about Toyota's "unbreakable" cars & reputatation should spend a week or so at the website with Toyota owners who are filing complaints about THEIR Toyotas!! Simply Google this- ENGINE SLUDGE and go to the consumeraffairs website about Toyota engine problems and read all of them!! There are Prius complaints too!! And lots of 'Airbags' complaints!! Then, Google this- YOUTUBE TOYOTA SEQUOIA DEFECT and watch the video!! There's always TWO SIDES to every story. Too bad Toyota's advertising dollars have dominated in the past, but this is NOW!!!

Rich

May 15, 2008 12:35 PM

The American carmakers need to get as smart with marketing as Toyota has been with the Prius, and with setting up their Tundra factory in truck territory. If Detroit becomes as clever as that, they'll be okay.

MM

May 15, 2008 12:59 PM

I'm surprised about the numbers. Please read the following case study. When I bought a toyota van, there was MSRP and is considered as premium vehichle eventhough the crash ratings are not that great. It's true about reliablility. It was one heck of hassle to go to the dealership to get quote and buy it. These dealers are pumping up the price and you are left with no choice. In case of hybrid, it adds more fuel to their arrogance. Consumers are paying more money to the dealerships than they should be. I'm sure consumer saves money and does not have to go through the dealership hassle. One future model is going to be that there won't be any dealerships to suck money. It will all be online and service stations.

Wick Ragoner

May 15, 2008 1:18 PM

The Japs, esp Toyota are fools: the payoff would be much bigger if they seized all their cutting-edge, fuel-sipping vehicles and crushed them for scrap (have you seen how high commodity prices are these days? People are stealing manhole covers!) , threatening their customers with lawsuits if they did not comply. Then they could sell their key patents for the technology to some disinterested party - say, General Motors for instance. Tesla Motors should do the same. They could then use the profits to boost the salaries of their grossly underpaid executives, thereby boosting the morale of the entire company. This is a PROVEN strategy and this is why GM is still #1 today and always will be!!

King Kong

May 15, 2008 1:24 PM

And GM said there was no market for hybrid vehicles. Boy have they ever been wrong, again, and again, and again, and again,,,,

greg hoo

May 15, 2008 1:42 PM

what a great car! comfortable, spacious with amenities and 47 mpg in the city actual mileage by me. the only way to stick it to the arabs and chavez outside of riding a bicycle everywhere. at least you can go on the hiway with the prius. toyota is a great company also have a lexus gs350...absolute quality and reliability while achieving 22mpg city actual and 0-60 in 5 sec. excellent products!!

JR

May 15, 2008 2:07 PM

One big difference between Toyota and the BIg 3. Toyota is not controlled and
bogged down by the heavy hand of the United Auto Workers.

Dan

May 15, 2008 2:07 PM

Hoorray! for Toyota. This should be a wake up call for the others. the Hybrid revolution is now.

I've had a Prius now for awhile, love it. Truly get 50MPG!!!

cag4

May 15, 2008 2:21 PM

The Prius is a HUGE car by Japanese standards... it was designed and built for the U.S. (and to a lesser extent European) market, so it's not surprising that they've hit it out of the park here and sold relatively few there.
What is interesting is that since December, when I bought my first Prius to $200 over invoice, until yesterday, when I bought one for $100 under MSRP, virtually *all* inventory is gone... and most of it to Europe, where the currency is stronger and the gas is even more expensive... dealers have pre-sold almost all of their Prius inventory for the foreseeable future in the U.S.

SJP

May 15, 2008 3:30 PM

When will Detroit get it? Its hard to have sympathy for inept mgt. decisions and lack luster quality. While Detroit was investing in SUV's and cutting cost by installing inferior components Toyota was persung the Hybrid and launching its new Tundra - probably the best truck on the market today. It looks like Ford might be starting to "get it" - hopefully they can pull off a turnaround. Ford is the only US vehicle I would consider today. Wouldn't touch GM with a ten foot pole - been there, done that - never again.

Tantrum

May 15, 2008 4:07 PM

What's even more significant is that selling 1 million cars generates a lot of user data that goes back into the development and improvement process. Detroit is years away from learning lessons that Toyota has already internalized.

I expect Toyota to deliver its plug-in vehicle on time and on budget in 2010. With the track-record they'll already have then, catching them will take another 7-8 years.

Let's see, will you prefer a Chevrolet Volt from a company that hasn't sold 100,000 hybrids or a Plug-in Camry from a company that sold you millions of Prius?

Steve C.

May 15, 2008 4:12 PM

I'll tell you what Detroit doesn't "get" and why many American cars are viewed poorly by import owners.

Until just recently every American manufacturer kept their plants running 24/7 (even when it didn't make sense) with most of the surplus production headed to rental car fleets.

These cars were almost always stripped-down, basic cars. Hardly good advertisements for the brand. Nothing wrong with that if you're trying to meet a rental cost per day target.

However, if you own a nicely-equipped Toyota/Nissan/Honda and you rent a basic, stripped down American car -- nowhere near as nice as your own car -- what are you going to think??

You're going to think all American cars are crapola and you'd be wrong but if that's your only experience with a more recent vintage American car, you will never set foot in an American car dealer.

Tim

May 15, 2008 4:40 PM

Toyota doesn't get biased press from advertising, it's accolades come from real world users. Up until 2 years ago my vehicles were Fords/Chevys which barely made it to 150K miles. The Toyota I bought had over 200K when I bought and ran better than the other vehicles I had owned. It now has almost 250K miles. Every company has their problems. Ford seems to have too many electrical recalls. Sludge would be a problem but compared to overall life and reliability, you win more often than you lose with Toyota's products compared to their competition.

Ty

May 15, 2008 4:49 PM

Greg Hoo, I am with you on sticking it to Chavez and OPEC! My Prius is being delivered next week.

DJ

May 15, 2008 4:49 PM

Prius is a feel good car. It is possible to get very nearly as good gas mileage without the goofy electric system and expensive batteries. The Toyota Corolla is only a few mpg behind the Prius and half the price, yet its sales are falling. Why? Don't get the "feel good" aura...

Tom Brosnahan

May 15, 2008 5:57 PM

The Prius was designed from scratch to save gas: narrow tires, light materials, aerodynamics.... Everything about it is "save gas." Its mileage display even teaches you how to drive to save gas. (I get 50+ MPG. I worked at it and got 72 MPG on a short trip last summer.)

Yet it is a relatively spacious, high-utility car with as much cargo room as some mid-size SUVs.

You can't put hybrid technology in a conventional car and get this result. You've got to start from scratch. Hybrid Chevy Tahoe? Good GM thinking!

Ria

May 15, 2008 6:23 PM

GM = Generally Mediocre (product line for these high cost fuel times)

GM = Got Mortgage?

GM's DiaTech home loan teaser rates were advertised coast to coast aggressively. Too bad so many took the bait and ended up reneging to sub prime land. Thanks GM for be a big part of two big problems. Any more schemes to screw up the economy?

preserve

May 15, 2008 6:23 PM

Why are we still talking about hybrids? So very 1998-2000.

Lets talk about Electric cars.. Oh has toyota even released a working prototype yet?

Jen

May 15, 2008 6:29 PM

My husband and I only buy very used cars. For many years we would buy American cars with 100,000 miles on them and only get maybe 50,000 more miles maximum. Then we started buying heavily used Toyotas and Hondas. We have to junk them eventally. Usually with over 250,000 miles on them. Oh and the worst gas milage on a Japaneese car was 28 MPG in town, delivering pizzas in the winter. My dream car, A 1997 civic. One day I'll get a car that new.

Nismo

May 15, 2008 6:59 PM

I hate american cars.

Niko

May 15, 2008 7:24 PM

Hoorah for Toyota, I'm happy with my VW GTI which looks better, is much faster, and cooler in every way and still gets 32+ MPG on the highway. The hybrid revolution is not really now, only for low income folks who can't afford 4.25 a gallon; sorry if that's you, lol....

Noz

May 15, 2008 7:37 PM

bOne has to wonder if GM has the really good control over the media as supposed. I say yes. A small story, but also a huge one. One of many piling up time and again. That the Prius is a larger seller here than on its home turf is OK, logical, the markets are not exactly similar. But to most that 60% of production being sold here is a bit of a shock. Toyota has very recently raised the prices here, and why not?

And so we see again the Failing/Flailing three bungling along uttering nonsense-isms as easily as the seldom mentioned trooth. The latter is something the American public could not care less about. Not here where little kids and big ones are not allowed to lose, too hard on their fragile egos. Social promotion will save the world according to the Leftists, and the way things are going it will not only sink the place we know as our planet, but the globe it will be wearing a stupid grin pasted there. Praise Allah? Sure, why not???

Noz

May 15, 2008 7:40 PM

One has to wonder if GM has the really good control over the media as supposed. I say yes. A small story, but also a huge one. One of many piling up time and again. That the Prius is a larger seller here than on its home turf is OK, logical, the markets are not exactly similar. But to most that 60% of production being sold here is a bit of a shock. Toyota has very recently raised the prices here, and why not?

And so we see again the Failing/Flailing three bungling along uttering nonsense-isms as easily as the seldom mentioned trooth. The latter is something the American public could not care less about. Not here where little kids and big ones are not allowed to lose, too hard on their fragile egos. Social promotion will save the world according to the Leftists, and the way things are going it will not only sink the place we know as our planet, but the globe it will be wearing a stupid grin pasted there. Praise Allah? Sure, why not???

Noz

May 15, 2008 7:56 PM

MM, Note your are dealing with and bitching about AMERICAN dealers. SOS with the BMV, MB for sure, Ford and on down the list.

Karl, aka Bother SLUDGE, nice to see you out from under your rock again. Even crackpots have to breath I suppose. For the really good stuff take in the exhaust of a Civic or an Accord.

And then there is the filthy mouthed bigoted Wick Ragoner. We build losers on a lot of fronts here in the land of the braggarts, boasters, and irresponsible. You a president of one of the sagging booster clubs up there on the peninsula?

Wagoner and Lutz were measured at Detroit branch (a former crack-mansion off Woodward) of The Loser's Wearhouse for warped cast iron butt-covers just the other day. Steel Workers Union marks on them, not to mention the rust. the Rubber Workers Union was protesting the use of Velcro, that the defunct Women's Garment workers Union were not making the straps...

Tesla is still borne if and when. The entire outfit is a bad dream, a fraud and a farce. What should come first, outrageous salaries or pride in practical product? Don't bother commenting, we have both your vote and your number.

Sam Siphandone

May 15, 2008 8:08 PM

I need a car that runs on solar energy... Hope that I don't have to wait 100 years from now....

Jacob

May 15, 2008 10:25 PM

I want a Prius but I am holding out for the plug-in.

jeremy

May 15, 2008 10:42 PM

Detroit take notice: You can make a profit in the long run by not making one in the short.

econguy

May 15, 2008 10:43 PM

Toyota needs to get back on the innovation track and get the plug in Prius and Highlander on the market. We can handle a little less trunk space, trust me on this. Just get the large cylinder lithium ion batteries in there using rolled up sheets of bipolar cells and a stable formula. Sto wait for the other guys and get it done.

Also, the engine sludge thing is just union chatter. Don't buy UAW products until they come clean.

JimW

May 15, 2008 11:33 PM

Bit of Detroit bashing here. Want to point out that GM is not the only car company ill prepared for the current fuel crisis. Europeans, Nissan, Hyudai...frankly every company but Toyota. Even other companies producing hybrids are getting dusted as nothing comes close to the 47mpg Prius.

Michael Barreto

May 16, 2008 12:09 AM

I shudder when I read the broken english, missing commas, participles, pronouns, plain unintelligible garbled language and poor phrasing exhibited in these comments. Is it just me or did America lose 100 IQ points this week?

SJP--the word is "lackluster"; ONE word.
Greg Hoo--"toyota is a great company also have a lexus gs350": From this sentence fragment are you trying to share that Toyota has a great model called a Lexus? Tell me how that makes sense?

MM--"there was MSRP and is considered as premium vehichle eventhough" WARNING WARNING This is not english. It is words strung together with no meaning. This reminds me of William S. Burroughs cutup experiments. I'm sure you did not intend for this reference, you dolt. Could you lay off the reefer and compose sentences? Next: "reliablility" has one too many L's, "It was one heck of hassle" should be "It was one heck of a hassle". Next: "In case of hybrid," should read "In the case of the hybrid," unless you are talking about a severe case of hybrid. Or maybe it is dangerous to get "hybrid" (In case of hybrid, flush affected area with water for ten minutes and consult your physician). Try paying attention to your typing. Better yet, just cut off your hands and dictate to a parrot that types. You may see an improvement in your grammar!

LC

May 16, 2008 1:09 AM

Dear Wick Ragoner, I understand the point you are trying to make about US companies and do not think you are were trying to offend. However the term “Jap” is derogatory and offensive, besides being perceived as racist. Please keep in mind Japanese visit this website too.
Regards,
LC
Tokyo, Japan

seeme

May 16, 2008 1:53 AM

All one has to do is check out the local American "owned", not made, car dealership... Would you buy any of those ugly guzzlers in this market... or ever again? If you said yes, I have a truck load of vhs players that I can make you a really good deal on...

JerryW

May 16, 2008 3:18 AM

I watched the auto industry here in Britain completely destroy itself in quite a short time. We still do have manufacturers in Britain - they are called "Nissan," "Toyota" and "VW."

Now I see the same thing happening in the USA. Only your large domestic market for old-fashioned cars is slowing down the process, but it is clearly happening. I feel sorry for those directly involved in what can be a painful transition.

Alaska Redneck

May 16, 2008 10:42 AM

I live in rural bush Alaska where gas in Nome went up to $4.30 gallon LAST summer. I own a 4wd Chevy truck. Yotas are good for want to be 4 wheelers that live in the suburbs and get to go real trucking when the wives let them. Long live the American Truck!

Mary

May 16, 2008 2:41 PM

I just got my Prius. I was online for months checking out the different fuel efficient cars. I decided on the Prius, knew exactly how much it would cost. Contacted the dealer online, basically bought it before I went in and drove it. got it at sticker price and had to wait 2 weeks for it to arrive at the dealership, picked it up. Love it. So glad i never have to buy another car at a GM dealer. Which I do not like their sales tactics. Almost criminal in my view. Toyota was a great experience all the way around. They treated me as if I was important, gave me the facts, in fact video taped it. Yeah Toyota.

Prius owner

May 16, 2008 5:34 PM

Hi!
I am a Prius owner. I should tell the car is fantastic and I am glad that more and more of Priuses sold worldwide.
Good work Toyota!!!

Math Guy

May 16, 2008 7:25 PM

A Prius with, say, a 1.3L engine would be $7,000 cheaper, have no long term toxic waste problems with dead batteries, and get comparable mileage.

The small size and aero design are responsible for much of the Prius MPG and the Hybrid badge makes it socially acceptable to drive.

For example, I know several senior executives who own both a Prius and a luxury car, but they would never own a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris. This is the genius of the Prius; it's halo of acceptance for a small car.

Prius at $27,000 for, say, 180,000 miles uses 4,000 gallons of gas for a total cost of, say, $43,000 (24cents/mile). A 35 mpg econobox at say $17,000 for 180,000 miles uses $20,000 worth of gas for a total cost of, say, $37,000 (21c/mile). And with no battery disposal, deficit-financed tax incentives, or complex technology. The Prius is a marketing solution to a problem solveable with existing technologies.


At European and Japanese prices, the cost of Prius hybrid drive pays for itself in a few years; in the US, it really doesn't make economic sense in the US

Jane

May 17, 2008 2:59 AM

I love my Prius!
Congratulation for all million Prius owner. Toyota, bring us more cars like this!

NOZ

May 17, 2008 1:58 PM

LC,

SHAME on Rickie, and thanks for bringing it up. There is excuse for that. The word tears at me, always has. I suppose I am not surprised, but I would think Lutz might have beaten him to it.

'Preserve', you goofball! Toyota has had electric cars buzzing around all over the world for some time now. But even a micro-brained humanoid might realize they are not practical as yet. And a HUGE factor is, of course, the source of the electricity. If it is coal, it is a loser beyond one's worst nightmares. NatGas is wasted in that application. Nuclear--sure, the long time winner by far--American technology and all--and junked by that fat head Al Gore back when he was energy czar

Get your miserable head out of your nether region and look around--try to find some facts, not easy with all the firewalls the left-wingers have set up to con the sheep.

Joe Lee

May 18, 2008 12:31 AM

Although foreclosures are rising, let the market works it way out. The federal government should not be putting its hand to solve the problem. The government will make it worst, more debit, more taxpayers paying, etc...

Tom King

May 18, 2008 1:33 AM

Al Gore has illimunated my ebility to spel iny wurd with moar then won silable. Those leftees have recked my left brain! I hev a kwestion for any fools who beleeve in global wurming. Carbon is black right? So if there is more carbon in the air, then why isn't the air black? Those scientists are all fools. LOL

Joao Alfredo

May 18, 2008 8:24 PM

I thought Mr. Karl had some reasonable complain against Toyota, but it seems that actually he has a kind of obsession about the company, because it is not just this article he post comment bashing Toyota. Looking back, he posted same things in almost every article regarding company! Is it any kind of frustration or prejudice, Mr Karl? I don't believe you've been paid to do this, because if you were, you'd be more smarter.
Well, Mr. Karl, 1 million Prius sold is a huge achievement to be respected, and BW didn't write about it just because Prius is a Toyota car, but there are reason to do that. Even Prius were a GM, Ford, VW, or another maker, media would write same thing as a remarkable achievement.
Also, if you believe media are pro-Toyota, probably your comments would not be posted.

Franchise Whale

May 19, 2008 12:20 PM

Really enjoyed it, I wanted to click out and
you kept pulling me back in! Many thanks
and keep up the great work!

econguy2

May 21, 2008 11:03 PM

Just give me a plug in Highlander with 60 mpg and I will junk my heavy SUV. Oh wait, I don't buy new cars. darn

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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