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For the ninth month in a row, the top-selling car in Japan is the Toyota Prius, helping hybrids make up more than 20-percent of all auto sales in Japan.
In February, Toyota sold 35,875 Prius hybrids, while the Honda Fit came in second place with 24,973 units sold. That’s quite the gap, especially considering third place was the new Toyota Aqua (Prius c in America – read our review here) that sold 21,951.
Hybrid models are now making up nearly half of Toyota total sales in Japan while Honda announced that 60-percent of their Fit sales are hybrid variants. Rounding off the top five was the Honda Freed in fourth place (13,293 sold) and the Toyota Vitz in fifth (11,288 sold). Over 40-percent of the Honda Freed sales are also hybrids.
The more interesting news is the fact that the Aqua hybrid production isn’t even keeping up with demand. The Japanese automaker originally planned to build 12,000 Aquas per month but now overwhelming demand has customers waiting almost six months for their vehicle if they placed their orders today.
The overwhelming demand in Japan for the new Toyota Prius c (known as the Toyota Aqua Hybrid) could affect the number of vehicles the US receives when they start to arrive in March.
Toyota reported that they have received 120,000 orders in Japan for their new compact hybrid sedan, a number 10-times the 12,000 they were targeting per month.
The smaller compact hybrid, produced by Toyota subsidiary Kanto Auto Works Ltd. in the northern prefecture of Iwate, could see a boost in production from 240,000 a year to 320,000 a year. Currently a customer that orders the Aqua Hybrid in Japan will have to wait until at least July to get their vehicle, causing us to wonder how this will affect American availability.
“We haven’t set a sales plan for the United States yet, and so we can’t say how much the affect would be,” Toyota spokeswoman Amiko Tomita said. In the past, Toyota had no problems diverting Prius production back to its home country, leaving America with shortages. The Prius c could also be in high demand in America, with its fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain and its below $20,000 MSRP. Current Prius owners seeking the best bang for their buck might have no problems “trading down” to the smaller, more efficient, and cheaper hybrid.
GALLERY: Toyota Prius c
We might become cautiously optimistic about Toyota if these reported order numbers continue to grow exponentially. It was just the end of December that we got reports that the Toyota Prius c in Japan (known as the Toyota Aqua) had reached 60,000 orders; and now just a little over a month later, they have reached 120,000 orders for their new compact hybrid sedan.
And without the Prius c even hitting American dealerships yet, Toyota can call the vehicle a success considering they have 10 times the order of their monthly sales target of 12,000 vehicles in Japan. Now their biggest issue is whether or not they wish to increase production in order to meet the overwhelming demand in Japan.
It’s probably no surprise that the Aqua is such a huge success in Japan. The standard Prius was the best-selling car in Japan last year, and despite the setbacks encountered through the tragic earthquake and tsunami, Toyota still managed to sell more than 250,000 Priuses.
GALLERY: Toyota Prius c
Toyota‘s upcoming Prius c is known in Japan as the Aqua hybrid, and Toyota of Japan is reporting that they’ve received 60,000 orders for the compact sedan as sales start rolling on the new hybrid.
The latest hybrid model from Toyota looks to have a promising start as Toyota hopes to have a monthly sales rate of 12,000 vehicles. Toyota hopes that the Aqua hybrid will help the brand regain sales after taking a dive due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and Thailand’s floods.
Out in Japan though, Toyota is anticipating customers will have a four month wait before they can take possession of their ordered Aqua hybrid. The overwhelming orders in Japan makes the upcoming model seem promising as it prepares for its global debut next year.
Toyota plans on selling the Prius c in 50 different countries and currently its priced very competitively in Japan at about $22,000 based on today’s conversion rates. The Prius c is anticipated to get 50- to 60-mpg with a 1.4L four-cylinder with 74-hp and 82 lb-ft of torque while the electric motor will provide 61-hp and 125 lb-ft of torque for a total of 100-hp combined.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]