Hybrid sales are taking off in Japan due to a perfect storm of newly available vehicles – namely the latest Toyota Prius and Honda Insight – and government-sponsored incentives. In Japan, gas is currently selling for about $4.50 a gallon, partly due to high fuel taxes in that country. In addition, the Japanese government has decreed that hybrid cars are exempt from taxes. Combine all of these factors and you end up with a seven-month waiting list for the new 2010 Toyota Prius.
In total, Toyota sold an impressive 22,292 Prius hybrids and Honda sold 8,782 Insights in Japan in the month of June, meaning that those two vehicles alone accounted for more sales than America's entire hybrid tally of 26,205 vehicles sold last month. Further breaking down the numbers reveals that one in every eight new cars sold in Japan is a hybrid, compared to one in three here in the United States.