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The Prius could surpass the Camry as Toyota’s best selling model in the U.S. in the next ten years says the head of Toyota’s sales department. Toyota Motor Sales boss Jim Lentz made the comments, stating that he sees the Prius gaining ground, rather than the Camry (the top selling passenger car in the U.S. for 11 of the past 12 years) shrinking.
The prediction, however, is a long way off from reality, as so far in 2009 Prius sales aren’t even half of Camry sales, with the former registering 118,290 units sold, while the Camry sits as 294,493 units sold. Both the Camry and Prius had their best sales years ever in 2007, when the Prius sold 181,221 units, compared to the Camry’s 473,108 units. Toyota is predicting 140,000 units for the Prius in ’09.
While Lentz’s prediction is based on increasing environmental awareness it may, however, depend on two other important factors. The first is if Toyota actually commits to building the Prius in the U.S., a move which could drastically reduce the cost of making the car. If Toyota could then sell the Prius for even less it would easily be even more of a dominant force in the hybrid marketplace, with “competitors” like the Honda Insight, (with its less impressive fuel economy and smaller interior room), priced only slightly lower than the current Prius. The second factor would be if the Prius nameplate was expanded to include additional models – like the a wagon or crossover, which recent reports have suggested will arrive soon.
Lentz has said he is pushing for more Prius models, but wouldn’t give any confirmation on the matter.
New Prius model expected to be either a crossover or wagon
Toyota is preparing to launch a variant of the Prius and while the new hybrid would be a larger model, the exact type of vehicle is not known. According to a report in Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper, the new Prius variant would either be a crossover or a wagon.
Back in 2007, Toyota did display a wagonized hybrid at the Geneva Auto Show, called the Hybrid X (pictured above). Not long after the concept car’s debut it was reported that once the 2010 Prius launched, a wagon would arrive roughly a year after. That would mean the new Prius model should debut in the near future.
There are also rumors that the new Prius model would use a lithium-ion battery, which is both more powerful and more compact than the ones currently used in the Prius. Both of those factors would make sense for a vehicle that would be larger and heavier, with a focus on cargo room and functionality.
Toyota has not commented on the matter, which is no surrise as the automaker is one of the best at keeping new models secret.
[Source: Yomiuri via GreenCarAdvisor]