Rare Occurrence: Toyota Prius Sales Drop

At a time when car buyers are focused on rising fuel costs and less dependence on foreign oil, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.'s popular Prius hybrid-electric vehicle experiences its first year-on-year sales decline in more than two years. Ward's data shows 6,547 units were sold in February, 531 less than in like-2005, the first time, since the second-generation Prius hit the U.S. market in October

At a time when car buyers are focused on rising fuel costs and less dependence on foreign oil, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.'s popular Prius hybrid-electric vehicle experiences its first year-on-year sales decline in more than two years.

Ward's data shows 6,547 units were sold in February, 531 less than in like-2005, the first time, since the second-generation Prius hit the U.S. market in October 2003, that monthly sales did not increase over prior-year.

Toyota says the sales dip is not because car buyers have lost interest in the Prius. Rather, it's due to supply not keeping up with demand.

While agreeing supply and demand likely played a role in the February falloff, industry analyst Rebecca Lindland of Global Insight Inc., says, “There's more competition out there, even within Toyota itself.”

Eight HEVs are currently being offered in the U.S. “You don't just have to (buy) the funky little Prius (anymore),” she says.

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