Toyota is quite conscious of its target status, which has been amplified by their topping everyone else in the first quarter of 2007. Sales goals were consistently surpassed as all of the company's offerings got a boost from the Prius phenomenon. Toyota's Jim Press is predicting that they're about to lose their front-runner advantage as the competition comes on line with their own fuel efficient wares. Countless mentions of the Prius as a panacea to high fuel prices continue to abound in newscasts, magazine articles, and utter forth from the obviously well-informed and trustworthy mouths of broadcast personalities, lending a marketing boost as the news looks for things to cover. The Hybrid Synergy Drive technology has spread to other 'Yotas, so there's now hybrid Lexi and Camrys to go along with the billboard-like statement of green that is the Prius.

With the vast success of Toyota's technology and strategy, other manufacturers have been toiling away. While there's no prediction of when the numbers will slow their upward climb, they can't continue indefinitely. It will be interesting to watch what happens as we go into the driving season, with fuel prices forecast to go much higher. There's no denying the high fuel efficency of the Prius -- even if it doesn't fully measure up to its EPA numbers -- and if fuel nudges $4 per gallon, we predict that Hybrid sales of all stripes will jump again. The leap in sales would benefit all automakers with Hybrids on offer, a growing number. Keeping dealer organizations happy will keep sales rolling as well. By holding the number of dealerships steady, Toyota is helping its store owners maximize profits. Happy salespeople are likely far more effective at moving wares, and by making healthy profits, customers can be coddled better. It's the little things, and Toyota sweats the details obsessively. So, while Toyota's making noises that they expect things to cool off, we're not expecting that prediction to come true any time soon.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub Req.]