Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s U.S. sales of Prius hybrids reached a record in March and in the first quarter, propelled by higher gasoline prices and two new models.
Toyota, the largest seller of gasoline-electric autos, sold 28,711 units in March of the Prius “family,” now comprising a plug-in Prius and c subcompact, the original hatchback and v wagon, the company said today in an e-mailed statement. Prius sales surged 54 percent from a year ago, and topped the previous monthly best of 24,009 set in May 2007.
First-quarter sales for the world’s best-selling alternative powertrain car keeps Toyota on track to meet a goal of 220,000 Prius sales in the U.S. this year, up from 136,463 in 2011. The vehicle accounts for half of U.S. hybrid sales. A shortage of the car last year due to Japan’s earthquake and tsunami cut industrywide deliveries to about 273,000 units from about 275,000 a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Toyota’s American depositary receipts fell 0.5 percent to $86.22 at the close of trading in New York.
“Toyota’s move to raise the price of their bigger Prius models is a good sign that the company is trying to make the models more profitable, too,” Aoki said, citing the carmaker’s planned $150 price increase for the v wagon model.
Hybrid sales typically track the cost of gasoline, rising in line with pump price increases. Regular grade gasoline cost an average of $3.92 (3AGSREG) a gallon on April 2, up from $3.28 at the end of last year, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge.
“Fuel economy remains a top purchase consideration among consumers, and we are pleased with the continued response to Toyota’s lineup,” Bob Carter, group vice president of U.S. sales, said in an e-mail yesterday.
The original Prius hatchback and the Prius c are rated as delivering an average of 50 miles (80 kilometers) per gallon in combined city and highway driving by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Prius v wagon averages 42 mpg and the plug-in Prius, able to go as far as 15 miles on electricity alone, is rated as getting 95 mpg-equivalent when drivers frequently recharge the lithium-ion battery pack, according to the EPA.
The Toyota City, Japan-based company today reported combined sales of Toyota, Lexus and Scion models of 203,282 vehicles from a year ago, a 15 percent increase, matching the average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.
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