2013 Toyota Prius Hybrid Line May Miss U.S. Target

- April 19, 2013

The 2013 Toy­ota Prius hybrid line, com­ing off record U.S. sales last year, may not reach a tar­get for growth in 2013, says North Amer­i­can CEO Jim Lentz.

Find out more about what Jim Lentz had to say.

Toy­ota Motor Corp’s Prius hybrid line, com­ing off record U.S. sales last year, may not reach a tar­get for growth in 2013 as gaso­line prices fall faster than the automak­er expect­ed, its top North Amer­i­can exec­u­tive said.

“It’ll be a chal­lenge,” Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North Amer­i­can chief exec­u­tive offi­cer, said in an inter­view today in New York. “We’ll con­tin­ue to push Prius and Prius fam­i­ly, but if it ends up that demand is less than the sales fore­cast, that may be adjust­ed,” he said with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

Toy­ota last month said it planned to sell about 250,000 Prius mod­els in the U.S. this year, up 5.6 per­cent from 236,659 in 2012. Sales of the top-sell­ing hybrid line — com­pris­ing the main Prius hatch­back, v wag­on, c sub­com­pact and plug-in Prius — dropped 8.4 per­cent in the first quar­ter to 55,724.

Sales of gaso­line-elec­tric cars and trucks have expand­ed in the past decade, albeit fluc­tu­at­ing with fuel prices. The aver­age U.S. cost of reg­u­lar grade gaso­line was $3.506 a gal­lon as of April 18, accord­ing to AAA’s Dai­ly Fuel Gauge report, down 9.9 per­cent from $3.891 a year ear­li­er.

While Prius sales are down this year, com­bined deliv­er­ies of all Toy­ota and Lexus hybrids are up 2.4 per­cent to 83,642, accord­ing to the com­pa­ny. In some cas­es, Prius own­ers are shift­ing to recent­ly added hybrid mod­els includ­ing a ver­sion of the Toy­ota Aval­on sedan and com­pact Lexus CT200h, Lentz said.

“Since we now have about 2 mil­lion hybrid own­ers in the U.S., we do have peo­ple com­ing in to buy new hybrids again,” said Lentz, who is based at the company’s Tor­rance, Cal­i­for­nia, U.S. sales office. Ford Motor Co’s push to expand its U.S. hybrid sales isn’t a fac­tor for the Prius slow­down, he said.

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