As government subsidies for green cars expired in Japan, sales of Toyota's Prius hybrid in Japan fell for the first time in 17 months, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.
The auto industry group further stated that even with the drop in sales, the gasoline-electric hybrid remains to be the top-selling car in Japan for the 17th consecutive month in September.
Toyota Motor Corp. sold 27,249 Prius cars in September 2010, a 14.2% drop compared to the previous year. Prius sales benefited from the government subsidies and tax breaks that were meant to boost demand for green cars. In early September, the subsidies ended but the tax breaks for energy-efficient cars remains.
Association spokesman Toshiki Miyake said that the Prius is still “hugely popular” but its sales were affected by the end of the car subsidies.
He believes that as a result, many consumers have decided to delay their purchase of green cars. Coming in second place when it comes to September sales is Honda Motor Co.'s Fit compact car. Honda was able to sell 14,622 of the energy-efficient vehicles, a 15.2% drop from the prior year.
This is the Honda Fit’s first year-on-year decline in 13 months. The hybrid version of the Fit is slated to be unveiled this Friday.
Meanwhile, the Toyota Prius started selling in 1997 and has beaten competitors as the first mass-produced commercially available hybrid car with a total of 1.9 million sold worldwide at the end of July. [via The Detroit News]