• Nov 18, 2009
2010 Toyota Prius – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Toyota Camry has been the best selling car in the US for 11 of the past 12 years, and only a total industry meltdown has managed to slow the Japanese automaker's bread-and-butter sedan. Even with that impediment, the Camry still has a comfortable lead versus its archrivals, the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. In fact, the only vehicles to routinely beat the Camry in overall vehicle sales are the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado, and those vehicles need dozens of configurations and both regular and heavy-duty variants to retain their overall sales leads. Conversely, the Prius isn't even the second best-selling Toyota right now (that would be the Corolla), but it wouldn't surprise Toyota USA President Jim Lentz if the ubiquitous hybrid hatch passed the Camry for sales supremacy sometime next decade.

Lentz reportedly told Wards Auto that he envisions the Prius passing the Camry in the next decade, but not because he foresees the midsize sedan slipping. Instead, Lentz says, "I think Prius will become just that much stronger." The reason Toyota's top U.S. man sees the Prius taking over Toyota's top sales spot is because he feels that rising gas prices and growing eco-awareness will push more car buyers into hybrids. That, combined with the high regard in which many Americans hold the Prius makes for a very compelling long-term argument. Lentz also says that a full lineup of Prius-badged vehicles is far from a sure thing, though he says he pushes executives in that direction each time he visits Toyota's Japan headquarters

While we can see a future where the Prius overtakes the Camry for sales supremacy, we don't see it happening any time soon. Toyota's world renowned hybrid had its best-ever sales year in 2007, and 2009 numbers promise to fall about 40,000 units short of that bogey. Did we mention that the Camry is still outselling the Prius at a nearly three-to-one clip?



[Source: Wards Automotive]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      My local Toyota dealer does not have a new Prius available for test drives.
      Every Prius coming off the boat for them is already sold.
      At this point, it seems that production limits are the limiting factor in Prius sales, and...Yes...I can see a future where the Prius line becomes Toyota's top-selling vehicles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The hybrid market is one that has, so far, seen very little growth. Hybrids like the Prius are a niche.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm not sure that Prius will do 400,000+ units like Camry unless TMS wants to put a lot of market support (i.e. incentives) to do that.

      The other problem is that Prius sales go up and down with gas prices. There have been months where Prius didn't do anything and other months where it had a 5-day supply.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sales may go up and down with gas prices BUT, in the big picture, gas prices are only going to go UP. Face it- China and India, two enormous countries that never really used *any* gas before 10 years ago both are sponging up the limited available limited oil resources almost as fast (faster?) than good ol' Americans. Prius is positioned to own the market as gas gets more costly here. Especially if they grow the 'Prius' line to more models.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Won't happen unless fuel prices go way up, or the car becomes decidedly more Camry-like. At which point, it'd definitely cannibalize Camry sales.

      I could be wrong, but I just don't see how they get there.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saying the Prius will replace the Camry as the top seller in the next decade makes me feel like Toyota has lost their faith in the Camry brand more than the idea of mid-size sedans becoming a smaller market. I believe the reality is if MPG keeps growing, the mid-size market will be fine. Look at the Fusion Hybrid sales. If in the next decade you could buy a 80 MPG Prius or a 65 MPG Camry, I would bet Camry sales would be just fine. If the Prius goes to 100 MPG and the Camry is 40 MPG, then sure the Prius could become the number one selling vehicle.

      In the short term, Toyota needs to give Scion a serious make over and give the vast majority of the Toyota branded vehicles a spike in personalty, interior quality, and they need to show technology leadership in more than just hybrid vehicles. Toyota is in trouble and if they do not want to follow the fate of GM, they need to make changes now. Those are the kind of statements the new head of Toyota is making, but only time will tell if they are more than just words. GM leaders claimed for decades they were changing, but change only seem to happen just as they were running out of gas.
      • 5 Years Ago
      High regard for the Prius? Why would anyone think that?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because it's proven to be very good at what it does. What it does however, is quite boring. Sort of like a genius accountant.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ...and Realtors believe that real estate is always a good investment. Sports fans believe that if their team wins it somehow affects their lives. People have all kinds of crazy beliefs.
      • 5 Years Ago
      i dread an america where we look at cars that minimize our impact, instead of our boredom, as potential best sellers. :sigh:
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why can't we have both? I agree with you that a Prius is about as boring as a car can get, but people use them as a daily commuter and go home to their classic muscle car or convertible import.

        The Prius isn't replacing fun cars, it's just getting the dirty work done so fun cars can be used what they were intended for.
        • 5 Years Ago
        well I'd prefer an america where our daily drivers are fun as well
      • 5 Years Ago
      What he is really saying is that he expects gas prices to go up a lot in the next decade. Would all you people saying it isn't going to happen still stand by that comment if it turns out that we have a 5+ year period when gas costs $5-$8 a gallon? It's at least plausible that could happen, and if it did, to me that would make Prius becoming the top seller plausible as well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nobody thinks that will happen in their lifetime...until it does, then they turn around and can't give away the gas guzzler they bought a year ago when gas was 'cheap'.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I doubt so...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I could definitely see this happening in the near future.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why not? GM, Chrysler or Ford don't have a car that can compete against Prius nor do they have the tech to make one any time by 2014.
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