Think you're seeing more Toyota Prius models on the road these days? Well, you are.

Automotive News is reporting that all those increased Prius sales in the U.S. and Japan (see here and here and here and here etc.) have turned the Prius into the world's third-best-selling car model for the first three months of 2012. During the first quarter, the Prius sold 247,230 copies around the world. The only cars that sold more during that time were the Toyota Corolla (300,800) and the Ford Focus (277,000).

There's an asterisk on the Prius' figures: much of that new success is due to the fact that there are a brace of new Prius models, namely the C, V and Plug-in – that have expanded the line, with the C being the "car of the moment in Japan," according to Automotive News. Sales in the U.S. were up 42 percent in the first quarter. The new models and the increased sales make up what AN calls a "Prius surge," one that could be capacity constrained in the States. AN writes that the sales pace could reach 250,000 units, but Toyota only has 220,000 units assigned to the market. More vehicles have been ordered, a Toyota exec says, but whether or not they arrive is uncertain. After last year's production issues, though, this is the good kind of problem to have.

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