When you looked at it, the first generation Prius didn’t look very impressive. It lacked the distinctive aerodynamic shape that made the following models stand out. With very limited performance, it didn’t sell well. All that changed around 2003. The Prius got better, whereas the economic environment got worse with the gulf war and the price of gas going up. Sales of the Prius were on the rise. Toyota sold more than 400,000 Prius world-wide last year, and sales will be more than half a million this year.
That is huge. So huge, that the Prius is about to become the best selling car in the world. Of course, Volkswagen will keep on selling more Golfs, but there’s so many different Golfs, with different engines, different transmissions and different body styles… Whereas all Prius are nearly identical. So much that Prius club meetings are quite boring, with only colors, wheels or very small things between the different cars.
But besides the sales success, the most dramatic Prius effect is in terms of economies of scale. Other manufacturers may only build a few thousands hybrid cars per year, when Toyota makes more than half a million. Price of hybrid parts won’t be the same… Toyota has already sold more than 2 millions Prius. With sales going on at today’s rate, the Japanese giant will have more than 3 millions Prius on the road in 2012. Its goal is to sell more than one million hybrids per year.