Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius hybrid is the best-selling vehicle in California, considered as the largest auto market in the United States. Based on registration data from Experian Automotive, Toyota sold 60,688 Prius models to consumers in California in 2012, equivalent to a 78-percent growth in sales. In the process, Prius dislodged Honda Motor Co.'s Civic from the throne, driven by higher fuel prices and buoyed by new versions of the hybrid vehicle.
Honda posted a 52-percent jump in Civic sales in California in 2012 to 57,124 units, according to the Experian data. In 2011, the Toyota Prius was the fourth top-selling vehicle in the Golden State, behind the Honda Civic, the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry, according to the California New Car Dealers Association's Auto Outlook report.
Nationwide, the Ford F-series pickup was the top-selling light vehicle in the US in 2012, ahead of the Chevrolet Silverado and Toyota Camry. The Camry, however was the top-selling car in the US in 2012, followed by the Accord and Civic. California accounts for over 10 percent of all new vehicles sold in the US.
The state also has been the top overseas market for Prius since it was launched in 2000. The Prius hatchback and Aqua, which is sold in the US as the Prius c subcompact, were Japan’s top two top-selling vehicles in 2012.
Bob Carter, Toyota's senior U.S. vice president, noted that the Prius became more popular with the carmaker’s customers as gas prices in California continued to increase. He added that the popularity of the Prius is why Toyota remains to be the world's largest seller of gasoline-electric vehicles.
Toyota considered aerodynamic performance as an important factor in penning the design of the new Prius. Thanks to this approach, Toyota was able to come up with an elegant silhouette without having to compromise function. While Toyota tweaked the Prius’ overall profile, pillar position and angle, it also retained the dynamic triangle form of the current version to make it easily recognizable as a Prius. By extending the front pillar forward, Toyota was able to refine the car’s performance-focused form.
Although the new Toyota Prius is still as tall as its predecessor, the top of the roof was moved 3.9 inches to the rear, effectively modifying its roof profile. Thanks to this tweak, Toyota was able to increase the headroom on the rear cabin and improve the Prius’ aerodynamics while highlighting the car’s wedge shape.
Both the front and rear ends of the new Prius comes with a sharp and aerodynamic design. Its body is laden with side character lines that rise from front to rear. Thanks to its wider rear treads, the new Prius boasts of a solid and rooted stance. Since the front cowl was moved forward, the Prius is now longer by 0.6 inches than its predecessor, although its wheelbase is basically the same.
In terms of aerodynamics, the new Prius features coefficient of drag value of 0.25 Cd – the lowest in the world and better than the 0.26 Cd of the current model. This was achieved by having the new Prius undergo extensive wind tunnel testing – more than any Toyota model. This allowed Toyota to focus on key aspects like the shape of the body, the underfloor and wheelhouse liner as well as the shape of the wheels.
Moreover, Toyota conducted an extensive study of the airflow under the Prius, leading the carmaker to tweak the front surface of the underfloor and the shape of the fender liner. Moreover, Toyota installed a fin at the rear floor cover for better linear stability.