Toyota Prius grabs no. 3 position in global sales in first quarter 2012

Article by Anita Panait, on May 29, 2012

The Toyota Prius became the world’s no. 3 best-selling car line in the first three months of 2012, mainly thanks to a high demand in the US as well as government rebates in Japan. During the first quarter of the current year, Toyota more than doubled the sales of the Prius, selling around 247,230 units around the world.

The company’s Corolla model topped global vehicle sales at 300,800 units, with Ford Motor Co.’s Focus model achieving 277,000 unit sales around the world to grab second place. With the Prius, which now refers to a four-model “family” of vehicles, and Corolla leading Toyota’s charge at the global car market, the Japanese carmaker became the world’s no. 1 carmaker in terms of sales for the first quarter of 2012.

With Prius’ growing popularity, Toyota now has three cars in the top 10 models in the United States this year, including Corolla and Camry. According to Eric Noble, president of automotive consultancy Car Lab, Prius’ achievement proves that the car was not a fluke and that there is a long-term market for hybrids.

Aside from strong US demand, Prius likewise benefited from the incentives given by the Japanese government to consumers who bought fuel-efficient cars to reverse slumping local deliveries.

The government offers rebates of up to JPY100,000 if consumers purchase one of any of the eligible cars, which include the Prius hatchback, wagon, plug-in and Aqua subcompact. The government also offers tax savings that would further cut the price by another JPY100,000 yen. One could purchase a Prius in Japan for an average price of around JPY2.5 million and in the US at around $25,000.

Pollution will be reduced throughout the entire life of the new Prius starting with its production until its disposal.

The Prius third generation continuous its record of constantly improving its fuel efficiency. The first Prius, rated an EPA 41 combined mpg, was replaced by the current Prius, with an EPA of 46 combined mpg. Implementing many different technologies, Toyota increased the new Prius’ fuel efficiency to about 50 mpg.

A bigger and stronger 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder motor powers the new Prius. Defying conventional wisdom, a bigger engine can actually help improve highway mileage. With greater torque, this engine runs at a lower highway average rpm. Because it operates at a lower rpm, it consumes less fuel. Mileage is especially better in cold-starts and at higher speeds.

Using an electronic water pump and a new exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system also add to engine effectiveness. The 1.8-litre Prius engine is the first unit from Toyota that does not need belts under the hood for improved fuel use and provides less chance for needing maintenance.

A standard multi-information display monitors energy consumption. It provides information on the Prius' efficiency with three different displays to assist the driver in developing cost-effective driving habits.

Not like other hybrids, the Prius has been a full hybrid from its beginnings, allowing it to use just the engine, just the battery, or both. The system combines the best of parallel and series hybrid engineering to have the ability to run only on electric mode, and to run the car while charging the batteries at the same time.

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