There's no doubt that the Toyota Prius has been a hit. A year ago, worldwide sales of the hybrid hatchback passed two million and, with annual sales of over 400,000 units, the Prius practically defines the idea of a green car for many people. Toyota is expanding the Prius from a model into a family with the larger Prius V, a plug-in model coming next spring and a smaller model on the way. Toyota had projected that 2011 would be another banner year, with record sales of the Prius leading the way.

However, sales of the Prius in 2011 haven't kept pace with expectations. Sales of the Prius actually dropped 9.4 percent from October 2010 to October 2011.

Part of the reason could be demand. Since the car's introduction, sales have gone up and down with gas prices, and while prices at the pump are considerably above where they were a few years ago, consumers have become accustomed to $3 a gallon gas. With the worldwide economic slowdown depressing the demand for oil, gas prices have failed to reach the stratospheric heights some had predicted. Other hybrids, such as Honda's Insight and Ford's Fusion Hybrid saw even greater declines.

Still, Toyota lays the blame for declining Prius sales on a lack of supply, not demand. The Japan earthquake closed down Prius production for nearly 90 days and put a big crimp in the delivery pipeline. With that issue behind them, Toyota is counting on increasing Prius sales in 2012 to power the lineup. In addition to record numbers for the existing Prius and the new Prius V crossover, Toyota is expected to sell over 16,000 of the plug-in model in its first year of availability.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      Ziv
      • 3 Hours Ago
      Soccer Mom's don't like wasting gas, the Prius V will be a huge hit. Too bad GM didn't follow through and build their MPV Volt. But a lot of great stuff coming in the efficient/hybrid market, and it is all good!
        EZEE
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Ziv
        That, is a fantastic idea. The volt has only been out a year, so maybe... Fantastic ideas.... Volt MPV Mazda Miata Electric Once they have these platforms (I am looking at you, Ford, GM), why not variations? No brainer... Maybe even a Leaf based sport car...with the torque of an electric...and, it can be made.... wait for it.... wait for it... Light weight and Aero! :D
      PR
      • 3 Hours Ago
      NPNS (no plug, no sale) demands among many in the green car community also could be part of the equation.
        EZEE
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @PR
        the plug ins really do offer the best of both worlds. And even though the volt has been a stand up car so far (sorry Neil C), many people trust Toyota for reliability over GM, so that will play a factor as well.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Hours Ago
      As usual, Toyota the reliably conservative automaker, trundles across the line first. Well done Toyota!
        EZEE
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Marco Polo
        @Me, seeing Marco's downvote Must be someone who doesn't like us.
      • 3 Hours Ago
      My wife drives an 06 Prius. I am really looking forward to a test drive in a plug in prius.
      Larz Larzen
      • 3 Hours Ago
      We're still paying $4 a gallon in California. I don't do any more driving than I have to, and I consolidate errands.
        centeredtype
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Larz Larzen
        I live in Los Angeles and we are not paying $4 dollars a gallon. more like $3.59/gallon
        electronx16
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Larz Larzen
        Ironically, if people in Europe were offered gasoline at $4/gallon they would trade in their subcompacts for SUVs on a massive scale and drive a whole lot more miles. It's just what you're used to...
          EZEE
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @electronx16
          I lived in Germany when I was a part of the Vast Military Industrial Complex for 2.5 years and never owned a car.
          Noz
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @electronx16
          I doubt it...peoples' lifestyles there are very different and they don't have the same mentality of Americans...it's not just about "because you can." Besides, anyone who doesn't use the exceptional public transport systems over there to go into the cities is a complete utter moron.
      EZEE
      • 3 Hours Ago
      Hi kids! Over on normal autoblog, they had a 2002 caddy crash into a 1962 caddy. Good demonstration of modern safety. Special note to Dan...the new caddy weighs 3800lbs. Doesn't the one VW they had here a couple weeks ago weigh over 3000lbs? Wow. Anyway, here is the link: http://www.autoblog.com/2011/11/27/1962-cadillac-vs-2002-cadillac-in-head-on-collision/#continued
        Nick
        • 2 Hours Ago
        @EZEE
        And what does this have to do with the article?
          EZEE
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          nothing, but who doesn't want to see cars crashing? Besides, I added the special note to Dan..
      Nick
      • 3 Hours Ago
      16,000 plug-ins....wooohooo!! Can't wait to see more plug-ins on the road: Leaf, Volt, Fisker, Model S, Prius...keep em coming!
        EZEE
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Nick
        Donyou know when the c max energi is due?
          Nick
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @EZEE
          I haven't heard much noise about the c max energi lately.
          EZEE
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @EZEE
          @Ziv Thanks! :)
          EZEE
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @EZEE
          @nick Maybe ford can redeem themselves for the less than ground breaking focus EV, with the energi....
          Ziv
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @EZEE
          Ford used to say that they were both coming in the first quarter of 2012, now some of the Ford guys have said that the Hybrid would come in the first half of 2012 and the Energi would come out 'nearly at the same time.' I would have bet money on March a month or two ago, but now my money is on April for the Hybrid and May for the Energi. There hasn't been a lot of news on it since January.
      Spec
      • 3 Hours Ago
      So they expect 16,000 Plug-Ins . . . . hmm, I wonder if they'll hit that. It is about the same price as the Leaf after the tax-credits on both are accounted for. It will be interesting.
        Nick
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        Relatively few people ever heard of the Leaf, and have no idea there's such thing as an 'Electric Vehicle'. 99% of peope are more into Sex &The City, McDonald's and MAC cosmetics. The Prius on the other hand, is a very famous brand that stands for clean car.
          EZEE
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          Agreed. Where other cars, such as the fusion and Camry, are great hybrids, the Prius is known by all as a hybrid. As much as I like the Volt, I think this will outsell it the first year out, unless there are any production or supply issues.
          EZEE
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          @Me Was I voted down due to the vote comment, or just because it's me?
          DaveMart
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          EZEE: I thought your handle was EZEE Minus, as it usually comes with that?
          Spec
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          Anyone interested in buying a Plug-In Prius will know about the Leaf.
          EZEE
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          @davemart :D
      Jackmon
      • 3 Hours Ago
      I wonder if the low demand is because of how ugly they've made it. I swear there's got to be a conversation at Toyota like this: Boss: "Designer, I want you to take this reasonably attractive shape and make it uglier." Designer: "Uglier sir? Why would we want to do that?" Boss: "Well, you see we don't have enough raw materials and production capacity to meet demands of an attractive vehicle." Designer: "Ah, I see, well, how ugly are we talking?" Boss: "You know... add a few unnecessary lines that don't go anywhere, add in some right angles here and there that don't make a lot of sense... you know. I'm not talking Aztek ugly... well, maybe just a bit in that direction. But not full on Aztek or anything." Designer: "You're the boss."
        EZEE
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Jackmon
        'full on Aztek' lol Toyota has staked its reputation on great reliability, opposed to fun or great looks. But honestly, my #1 concern is that the car starts when I turn the key, shifts gears, and the AC system works (Florida). A friend bought a firebird the same time I bought my ranger over 10 years ago. He maintains his firebird is better. He has replaced the engine, tranny, and AC, plus everything else. I have replaced 2 sensors and may have a ball joint going. I disagree with his accessment. Toyota is probably the only brand I would buy without checking consumer reports first.
          Jackmon
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @EZEE
          No argument there. My family owns two Toyotas. My Mom owns one. My Dad's old '79 Corolla outlasted him. The reliability is phenomenal, and I will probably continue buying them. Just wish they'd work on the trim a little for the Prius line.
      Robyn
      • 3 Hours Ago
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      izmirian
      • 3 Hours Ago
      I already saw the new prius van on the road...
        Ziv
        • 2 Hours Ago
        @izmirian
        I saw one at the Springfield Toyota dealer, looked kind of funky, but roomy.
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