By Colin Bird on April 5, 2011
Toyota sold its 1 millionth Prius hybrid in the U.S. this week. The announcement comes as the Prius faces increased consumer demand as well as potential supply constraints.
It’s been more than 11 years since the first Prius went on sale in the U.S. We’ve been through three iterations of the nameplate now. The latest is the largest, most powerful and most fuel efficient yet, rated at 51/48 mpg city/highway. It’s currently the most fuel-efficient (non-electric) vehicle in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
All three generations of the Prius are proving to be long-lasting. More than 97% are still on the road today, according to the automaker. Despite hundreds of thousands of miles and a decade’s worth of wear, many Toyota Prius batteries still achieve the same fuel efficiency as they did when they were new, according to Consumer Reports.
The Prius hybrid accounts for more than 60% of all hybrid sales, despite increased competition from Hyundai, Ford and Honda, according to Bob Carter, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.
Toyota sold 18,605 of the hybrids in March, up 52% from March 2010. Gas prices stood at an average of $3.54 a gallon at the end of March, a 24% increase from the same time last year. Today, that price is even higher, at an average of $3.70 a gallon nationally.
Toyota has sold more than 3 million Priuses (or Prii, if you buy the marketing hype) since the vehicle went into production globally.
In a separate announcement, the automaker said production of the Prius would continue in Japan, albeit at a reduced capacity. Production was halted between March 14 and March 28. Toyota resumed Prius production last week, and spokesman Steven Curtis says new shipments are en route to the U.S. Toyota currently has about 12,000 Priuses on lots, which is equivalent to an 18-day supply. Sixty days of supply is considered healthy.
Toyota’s two other compact hybrids — the Lexus CT 200h and Lexus HS 250h — are also back in production. The larger Pruis V will accompany the original Toyota hybrid at U.S. lots by late summer. A plug-in version of the Toyota Prius, which we have tested preliminarily, goes on sale in early 2012.