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Japan’s largest auto brand has once again captured the coveted title of world’s largest automaker.
Toyota continues to enjoy success with its Prius family of models, as its plug-in hybrid sold 1,654 units in the month of April.
The sales figure trumps its main competitors, the Chevrolet Volt (1,462 sold) and the Nissan Leaf (370 sold) making it the most popular plug-in vehicle last month in America. It’s no huge surprise that the plug-in variant of the Prius is selling well compared to its counterparts, considering how well-known the Prius moniker has become over the years.
Last month the Japanese automaker also saw the highest sales total for its Prius models ever for the month of April, moving a combined figure of 25,168 units across all its model variants. In total, Toyota sold 30,126 hybrids while its luxury division Lexus moved a respectable 2,467. Compared to April 2011, Toyota’s hybrid sales saw a huge jump of 124.6 percent, but it’s worth noting that April 2011 was also after the disastrous tsunami that hindered vehicle production.
“Thanks to continued strong sales of Camry and Prius family, Toyota was America’s number one retail brand for the second straight month,” said Bob Carter, general manager of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. “With consumer confidence improving, we expect to see sustained industry growth in the months ahead.”
This year has been a tough one for Toyota thanks to Mother Nature and her natural disasters. As if the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan wasn’t bad enough, Thailand experienced its worst floods in almost 70 years, disrupting Toyota’s production of their popular Camry and Prius models.
As a result, Toyota has had to cut its full-year profit forecast by 54-percent, dropping their net income 56-percent to $2.3 billion in the 12 months ending on March 31st, 2012. That’s less than half the profit that was originally projected by analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Combine the disasters with the yen’s surge and it’s no surprise that Toyota’s recovery is going to be tough and may take longer than one would expect for the popular Japanese auto manufacturer. It is likely that Toyota will be giving up its three-year crown of world’s largest carmaker to GM for 2011.
Due to the flood, Toyota and Honda both delayed their new projections, while Nissan on the other hand raised its profit forecast thanks to a rise in vehicle sales in China. It’s widely believed that Toyota lost more output than any other automotive manufacturer from Thailand’s record floods, possibly causing 260,000 vehicles to have been lost in production.
Toyota is also in a balancing act with the pricing on their vehicles due to the rising yen. They have even admitted that they have had to raise the prices on some of their vehicles and anticipate a drop in sales as a result.
[Source: Automotive News]
Toyota is banking on its plug-in Prius hybrid and other new models to help bring their sales numbers back to pre-2008 status, where Toyota had no trouble grabbing the global sales crown each year. Currently Toyota is poised to lose that trophy to General Motors, undoubtedly due to the earthquake in March in Japan and the floods in Thailand hampering production.
But Toyota has a bright future ahead of them with their abundance of gasoline-electric vehicles on the horizon. There’s no doubt the Prius has enjoyed immense success worldwide and the Prius PHV hybrid will be introduced to the Japanese market on January 30th, with a starting price around $41,000. Toyota is aiming to sell 35,000 to 40,000 plug-in Priuses a year in Japan alone.
The new Prius PHV has a cruising range of 16.4-miles on its lithium-ion battery and can be charged using a household electricity outlet. Toyota hopes that the PHV will be able to compete with the electric car market while enticing consumers that are hesitant to buy an all-electric car.
[Source: Automotive News]
Sales of the Prius in 2011 are expected to surpass even the number sold in 2010 says Toyota, despite the disastrous earthquake in Japan that limited production of the popular hybrid.
Toyota has been shifting all its resources to ensure production of its hybrid model is top priority after hitting a 61-percent drop in June of Prius deliveries – the lowest since September 2004. Prior to the earthquake, Toyota anticipated sales of the Prius to leap their record 2007 year of 181,221; though that may be out of reach now, Toyota is confident they’ll surpass the 2010 sales figure of 140,928.
Currently, demand is greater than supply of the Prius, with many dealerships in America having a waiting list of customers. With the average fuel cost going up, demand for hybrid models has also been going up.
More importantly for 2012 and beyond, Toyota will be expanding the Prius line with the addition of the Prius v wagon, subcompact Prius c and the electric plug-in Prius, potentially making it their number-one selling model line within the next decade.
[Source: Automotive News]