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]