Toyota Still Confident It Can Beat 2010 Prius Sales

Back in March, when the earthquake hit Japan, Toyota could only keep one day’s worth of Prius units on dealers’ lots, but the Big T is still confident it can beat last year’s sales by the end of 2011.

“Dealers simply cannot get their hands on them quick enough,” said Ivan Drury, an analyst for Santa Monica, California-based, an industry pricing and data website. The model “is easily the poster child for inventory issues.”

A lack of supply resulted in a dramatic 61 percent drop in deliveries last month, but the carmaker saw decent demand. However, this is the lowest level seen since September 2004. Almost half of Prius models are sold in the U.S., where the car accounts for more than 60 percent of hybrids sold since 1999, according to Bloomberg’s analysis.

Selling as many hybrids as possible is crucial for Toyota, as the Prius is the third biggest seller after the Corolla and Camry. Even before the Japan quake, Toyota targeted Prius sales in 2011 that would top the car’s 2007 peak of 181,221. While that level may be out of reach for now, Toyota can still exceed 2010’s deliveries of 140,928, said Donald Esmond, Toyota’s senior vice president for U.S. sales.

Output of the Prius and two Lexus hybrids is rebounding faster than Toyota first estimated after the 9-magnitude quake in March. The company expects to be back at full output by September.

“By the end of this decade, the Prius nameplate will be the number one passenger car nameplate in the industry,” said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota’s U.S. sales unit.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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