Sales in the U.S. for Toyota’s Prius hybrids broke records for the month of March and for the first quarter. Toyota attributed the boost to the increasing fuel prices and the arrival of two new models. Bob Carter, group vice president of U.S. sales, said via an e-mail that Toyota sold over 25,000 units in March of the Prius “family.”
This lineup now includes a plug-in Prius and c subcompact, as well as the original hatchback and v wagon. The Prius’ monthly sales peaked in May 2007, with a delivery of 24,009 units. Toyota is on track to achieve its target of 220,000 Prius units sold in the U.S. this year, higher than the 136,463 units sold in 2011.
This model makes up about half of hybrid sales in the U.S. There was a shortage last year because of the calamity that had hit Japan, affecting industrywide deliveries to drop to about 273,000 units from 275,000 the previous year. Takashi Aoki, senior fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co. in Tokyo, said that with this pace and the U.S. economy’s recovery, the goal for the Prius seems to be fairly achievable.
Aoki said that Toyota’s move to increase the price of the bigger Prius models is a good sign that the company is working to make these models more profitable as well. Typically, hybrid sales will increase when gasoline prices also go up.
The regular grade gasoline is priced at an average of $3.93 a gallon on April 1. This is an increase from $3.28 at the end of 2011, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge. In the e-mail, Carter said that fuel economy continues to be a top factor to consider when making a purchase.