Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. sets a lofty 2007 sales goal of 175,000 units for its Prius hybrid-electric vehicle at the same time demand appears to be waning.
The new sales target represents a 62% hike from 2005's 107,897 Prius deliveries and a 54% spike compared with this year's 114,000 anticipated sales.
Some industry analysts find next year's sales goal overly optimistic considering U.S. Prius sales year to date have seen a downward trajectory, leading to speculation the car has fallen out of favor as newer HEVs launch.
The Prius also may be feeling the heat from new fuel-sipping B-segment cars driving into the U.S. marketplace, including the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota's own Yaris, all of which are eminently more affordable than the premium-priced Prius.
Through August, Prius sales were down 3.3% to 70,447 units vs. like-2005, Ward's data shows. While not a huge drop-off, the slide is notable, as the HEV's sales have grown steadily since the current generation was introduced in 2003.
Nevertheless, Toyota officials insist the Prius will meet expectations.
“We're definitely not seeing a downturn in interest for the Prius,” Don Esmond, Toyota Motor Sales senior vice president-automotive operations, tells Ward's.