Toyota looked to redeem a relatively slow year for Prius sales in 2011 by broadening its lineup for the world's best-selling hybrid. By the looks of its sales last month, the strategy is working.

The Japanese automaker sold 28,711 Prius hybrids in March, the all-time U.S. monthly record since introducing the model stateside in 2000. Prius sales were up 54 percent from a year earlier and helped push total Toyota Motor Sales USA sales up 15 percent. The Camry Hybrid, which got an update late last year, boosted sales by 35 percent from a year earlier and set an all-time March record.

Toyota appears to be benefiting from rising gas prices in the U.S. The average price of a gallon of regular gas has risen about 60 cents this year and is approaching the $4 mark, AAA reports. Further pushing Prius sales is a broader range of models, including the Prius C compact and the Prius V wagon that were both introduced in the U.S. this year.

Toyota's Prius surge relative to year-earlier numbers has also been accentuated by the fact that the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that struck Japan last March constrained Toyota's supply chain and hurt dealer inventory in the U.S.
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Toyota Reports Sales of Over 200,000 Vehicles in March 2012

First Quarter Sales Increase, Prius and Camry Set Records

TORRANCE, Calif. (Apr. 3, 2012) – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today reported its best March results since 2008 with sales of 203,282 units, an increase of 11.2 percent compared to March 2011 on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis. On a raw volume basis, unadjusted for 28 selling days in March 2012 compared to 27 selling days in March 2011, TMS sales were up 15.4 percent over the year-ago month.

For the first quarter, TMS reported sales of 487,284 vehicles, an increase of 9.4 percent over the same period in 2011 on a DSR basis. With 77 selling days in the first quarter of 2012 compared to 75 selling days in the first quarter of 2011, sales were up 12.3 percent on an unadjusted raw volume basis.

The Toyota Division posted March total sales of 183,142 units, an increase of 13.5 percent on a DSR basis over March 2011. Volume-wise, Toyota Division sales were up 17.7 percent year-over-year. The Lexus Division reported total sales of 20,140 units, decreasing 6.1 percent versus last March on a DSR basis. On a raw volume basis, Lexus Division sales were down 2.6 percent year-over-year.

"Toyota dealers had their best-selling month outside of Cash for Clunkers since the pre-recession days of August 2008. Camry and Prius also continue to shine as both set records, including Camry's best March ever and an all-time high for Prius sales," said Jeff Bracken, vice president of Toyota Division sales. "With strong first quarter results and key economic indicators remaining upbeat, we see this momentum carrying into the months ahead."

Toyota Division
Toyota Division passenger cars recorded combined sales of 113,135 units, up 19.5 percent over March 2011. Camry and Camry Hybrid increased 30.5 percent year-over-year with its best-ever March, leading monthly passenger car sales with 42,567 units. The Prius family outsold every previous record posting March sales of 28,711 units, up 48.8 percent over the year-ago month. Avalon recorded sales of 3,327 units, an increase of 20.8 percent compared to the same period last year, and Corolla reported combined March sales of 28,289 units.

Toyota Division light trucks recorded March sales of 70,007 units, an increase of 5.1 percent compared to March 2011. The RAV4 compact SUV led light truck sales, which posted monthly sales of 17,367 units, up 4.1 percent over last year. Highlander and Highlander Hybrid reported combined sales of 11,044 units for the month, increasing 8.4 percent versus the year-ago month. The Tacoma mid-size pickup increased 19.3 percent year-over-year with monthly sales of 12,547 units. The Tundra full-size pickup was also up 10.3 percent for the month with sales of 8,594 units. The 4Runner mid-size SUV recorded sales of 4,065 units, and the Sienna minivan recorded sales of 10,240.

Scion posted March sales of 6,694 units, increasing 16.5 percent over March 2011. The tC sports coupe led the way with March sales of 2,275 units, while the xB urban utility vehicle recorded sales of 2,054 units, flat versus the year-ago month. The all-new iQ premium micro-subcompact posted sales of 1,285 units, followed by the xD five-door urban subcompact with 1,080 units, which was flat year-over-year.

Lexus Division
Lexus reported passenger car sales of 11,477 units, up 5.4 percent over March 2011. The ES entry luxury sedan led Lexus passenger car sales with 3,141 units. The GS and GS hybrid posted combined sales of 2,558 units, up 472.3 percent over a year ago. The IS luxury sports sedan recorded sales of 2,717 units for March, and the CT 200h premium hybrid compact posted sales of 2,223 units.

Lexus luxury utility vehicles reported sales of 8,663 units, a decrease of 17.9 percent year-over-year. The RX and RX hybrid posted combined monthly sales of 7,057 units, while the LX recorded sales of 666 units, up 88.3 percent over a year ago.

TMS Hybrids
TMS posted March sales of 38,215 hybrid vehicles, an increase of 49.0 percent compared to the same period last year. Toyota Division posted sales of 34,722 hybrids for the month, up 60.7 percent over the year-ago month. Lexus Division reported monthly sales 3,493 hybrids.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 32 Comments
      wobrown10
      • 2 Years Ago
      Type your comment hereh
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      Given Toyota's playing with the name Prius, it doesn't mean much to compare last year's sales to this year's. You're basically comparing the sales of a marque to a car.
      Ron Wagner
      • 2 Years Ago
      People should consider natural gas, and compare their options with CNG vehicles. Possibly converting used vehicles. There are videos on youtube showing how to convert to a CNG/gasoline for as low as $1,000 with a small tank. Honda sells a dedicated CNG only Civic. Many more will be coming. CNG gasoline equivalent (GGE) sells from $.78 to $2.50 plus. See cngnow.com for a map of stations that sell CNG. It can also be compressed at home but the pump costs $5,000. Pickup trucks and full size vans are also now available from Ford, GM, and Dodge.
        mylexicon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ron Wagner
        Truckers should use CNG. Makes more sense for them b/c they refuel less often and routinely on the interstates. Conversion should be a smaller cost relative to the entire vehice, and they have room to easily carry the storage tanks. If all trucks and buses were CNG, the US would shed about 15% of its oil demand.
      BigJ
      • 2 Years Ago
      If they would drop $5-8K off the PiP, I'd buy one tomorrow. In my opinion its current pricing makes sense to basically no one with math skills. The premium is so high that you have to put on a bunch of low cost electric miles to pay for it.... but its range is so low that you have to have a short commute... thus not putting on many miles.
        brotherkenny4
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BigJ
        Your speaking of the plug-in of course?
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BigJ
        With a vehicle like that (or the Volt) it actually doesn't matter how long your commute is, as long as you can use the entire all-electric range of the vehicle (we'll ignore that the PiP doesn't actually have a real all-electric range) each day. The challenge then becomes how often can you stop and charge the vehicle, because if the vehicle only has (say) 8 miles all-electric range, then nothing after the first 8 miles saves you anything. Even assuming free electricity you only save (e-range)*(price of gas)/(mpg) per charge. So in the PiP case, about 8*$4/50 or $0.64 per charge. If you only charge at night, then with an 8 mile commute, you save $0.64, with a 10 mile commute, $0.64, with a 20 mile commute, $0.64. So basically (assuming $5K premium for PiP) it would take you 7812 days to pay itself back versus a regular Prius, or 21.4 years. If you charge twice a day? 10.7 years. And if you don't get your electricity for free, it'll be even longer. I used your $5K-$8K as the price premium, but you can assume the premium for the PiP is a little lower (I usually use $3.5K) but it's clear the car isn't good for reducing costs of driving. Since it has no true all-electric range it isn't good for getting off gas either. This car has a plug simply you can drive in a carpool lane solo in California. People will pay $3.5K for that capability. And the real shame is that at highway speeds, it always runs off the gas engine, no matter how short your commute.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          "This car has a plug simply you can drive in a carpool lane solo in California. People will pay $3.5K for that capability" This is exactly right.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BigJ
        Yeah, the premium for the PiP is way too high. It is so high that I get the feeling that they are trying to help GM out by letting the Volt get a few sales. They could have easily priced the PiP lower or put in a larger battery and sold it for the same price and really hurt Volt sales.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Toyota is wedded to Prius gas hybrid technology. Moving to a strong EV solution is a big step for them, as it gets the customer asking if the Prius is still relevant.
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      This isn't surprising, but I am curious how the Plug Prius sells. Given the high cost for marginal improvement, I can't imagine it does well for Toyota.
        mapoftazifosho
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Prius C 4,875 Prius V 4,937 Plug-in Prius 891 Liftback 18,008 Total 28,711 -and- Camry Hybrid: 5,400 Highlander Hybrid: 600 CT200: 2,223 HS: 261 RXH: 1000
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @mapoftazifosho
          Thanks! The PiP is about 3% of total Prius sales, and 2% of total Toyota hybrid sales. Not too bad.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @mapoftazifosho
          Yay my predictions on the Prius C are coming true! Never doubt me.
      Taggart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Being GREEN is no longer the biggest reason to buy a Prius: it's simply the most reliable car you can buy, according to the Germans. Their TUV reliability report, based on stringent inspections, rates the Prius #1 in reliability, having the fewest problem areas. In fact, the Prius edged out the Porsche 911, a car that is well-maintained by its owners, unlike daily duty cars like the Prius.
      wobrown10
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm curious to see the Prius C numbers, any info Autoblog?
        Yegor
        • 2 Years Ago
        @wobrown10
        Camry Hybrid: 5,400 Highlander Hybrid: 600 CT200: 2,223 HS: 261 RXH: 1000
        Gwido
        • 2 Years Ago
        @wobrown10
        Prius C 4,875 Prius V 4,937 Plug-in Prius 891 Liftback 18,008 Total 28,711
          Yegor
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gwido
          Thank you!!!
          MTN RANGER
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gwido
          I think it made sense to create a smaller (C) and larger (V) models. They add roughly the same amount to opposite ends of the liftback sales. While the PIP adds the high end model up to $40k for those willing to get the "fully loaded" version. Looking at the data from the last several months gives no indication that there is serious cannibalization.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gwido
          So, things with plugs shake out like this: 2,289 Chevy Volt 891 Toyota PiP 579 Nissan Leaf The Leaf got pipped by the PiP. Toyota must be high-fiving themselves over this.
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here's what happens (conversation between 2 friends) Amy "oh my gosh, I need to get myself an efficient car!" Jessica "oh totally. What are you going to buy?" Amy "I don't know, something efficient.." Jessica "A Prius! Prius burns little fuel. I think" --> Amy goes to a Toyota dealer (after discovering online that the Prius is made by Toyota) sees the Prius, and the Prius C, and goes "oh my gosh, this one is cute AND cheaper than the big one". And buys one.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick
        The Prius C is like the Model S - it competes well in its class with no need for apologies, qualifiers, or anything. A good little car,mthat just happens to be a hybrid.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick
        Nick: I didn't realise you were also called Amy. Good buy though! :-)
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      as much as I don't care for Prii because they are conventional fossil fuel cars and those sales would be electric cars if they weren't so disgustingly overpriced and incompetently executed, it's at least somewhat nice that the car GM hated is so popular that it has spawned a whole family of models. they have at least hints of electrification and that will reinforce the electric car as the future in the minds of those who buy the Prii
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        I think the company that most "hates" the Prius is probably Honda. They tried to copy it yet sales of the Insight are fairly poor (sales down 64% from last year). Even the Volt outsold the Insight 2.3 to 1.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MTN RANGER
          That's because their copies have been lackluster. It is pretty sad considering Honda was well-known for its original 2-seater Insight that was capable of really high MPG.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Wait, Toyota makes the least-plug in plug-in out there and you back it? Hypocrite.
      krona2k
      • 2 Years Ago
      Could it be that the general public is finally realizing that there's no more cheap oil?
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @krona2k
        I'd like to think that but, sadly, no. Although Prius sales are up, the Prius family and every other hybrid still makes up a single digit percentage of the market. People are buying 30MPG vehicles and that helps with $4/gas. But what happens when gas costs $5/gallon? $6/gallon? Higher? They'll realize they SHOULD have bought hybrid (or electric). So they are adapting to $4/gasoline . . . but that is still cheap compared to what it will be a few years down the road.
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