The new Toyota Prius is one of the most transformative new designs in recent automotive history. In one year, it went from one of the ugliest cars on sale to the slickest-looking Toyota ever. The stunning new model is more efficient, an order of magnitude better to drive, a stunning value, and already has interest from a younger, wider crowd. Dealers are already talking about five-figure markups. Toyota, however, still doesn’t expect much sales growth.
Lisa Materazzo, Toyota’s US Vice President of Marketing, said roads and tracks The company expects to sell about 35,000 units annually for the non-prime, standard Prius. This is an improvement over last full-year figure, but only just. Despite the product’s age and Toyota’s considerable supply-chain constraints, Toyota sold 33,968 Prius hybrids in 2021. With long-term gas price concerns at an all-time high, recession fears in the water, and a much more compelling product, the time seems ripe for a Prius resurgence. A 1000-unit improvement in one of the worst years in history seems remarkably conservative. That’s especially true when you look at the Prius’ two best years, 2012 and 2013, which both saw sales peak at 230,000 units.
“There is definitely an upside to the 35,000 estimate that we have and we will do what we can if there is demand,” Materazzo said. R&T.
These figures, then, are not the result of expected supply problems as a real look in the market.
“We don’t have a crystal ball, so it’s hard to say in the short term what our supply chain disruption could be … It seems reasonable that there could be upside potential, but ultimately the market will decide.”
Even in the best-case scenario, Toyota never expects to come close to the high-water mark for Prius sales. While stronger-than-forecast demand may materialize—and reported dealer markups for the first allotment suggest it might—the six-figure sales volumes of the 2005-2017 era are likely gone for good.
“I think it’s important to remember that we have more hybrids and more electrified vehicles across our lineup. So there are more options for buyers than in 2011, tied to that sales plan,” Materazzo said.
At the time, customers looking for a fuel-efficient hybrid were mostly stuck with the Camry or Prius. Today, they can get a RAV4 Hybrid, RAV4 Prime, Prius Prime, Hybrid Tundra, or an all-electric BZ4x. A pie cut into so many slices leaves little room for such a sales standout. Add in the staggering number of hybrid, plug-in, and battery-electric options from rivals—almost none of which existed in 2012—and it’s hard to see how any hybrid can recapture the chart-topping success of the second- and third-generation Prius. .
A gorgeous design and a new focus on performance are both huge improvements, but even Toyota knows they won’t be enough to change the way the wind is blowing.
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