Toyota Beats 2011 Volt Sales In 10 Weeks With Prius V Hybrid

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2012 Toyota Prius V station wagon, Half Moon Bay, CA, May 2011

2012 Toyota Prius V station wagon, Half Moon Bay, CA, May 2011

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It may have only gone on sale at the end of October 2011, but Toyota has just announced it managed to sell 8,399 Toyota Prius V Wagons before the start of 2012. 

In other words, it sold 668 more 2012 Prius V wagons in 2011 than Chevrolet sold Volts, but 1,335 less than the Nissan Leaf.

Starting at just $27,100, the Prius V combines the same 1.8 liter gasoline engine and Hybrid Synergy Drive system found in the 2012 Toyota Prius hatchback with a taller and longer rear. 

The result? A wagon that can swallow 34 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats and offer fuel economy of 44 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.

2012 Toyota Prius V station wagon, Half Moon Bay, CA, May 2011

2012 Toyota Prius V station wagon, Half Moon Bay, CA, May 2011

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Although its fuel economy doesn’t match either the 2012 Prius Hatchback or the 2012 Chevrolet Volt, the 2012 Prius V offers more space than both, combining practicality with green motoring. 

But according to GM spokesman Rob Peterson, comparing sales figures of Toyota’s latest hybrid car is like comparing “apples and oranges.”

“Consumers cross-shop vehicles with comparable technologies or functionality, not a new name-plate,” Peterson told Bloomberg yesterday. The two cars, he reiterated, appeal to different buyers. 

Petersons is right: the two cars do appeal to different demographics.  However, for buyers who want their first green hybrid, we think the Prius V's  base-level sticker price -- a massive $12,895 less than the base-level Volt -- is bound to win it custom from buyers who don't necessarily want their green car to have a plug. 

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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Add on the detrimental effects of end-of-year media hysteria surrounding the now-fixed Chevy Volt battery pack on Volt sales, and it's easy to see why the Prius V outsold the Volt. 

Does that mean the Volt is a failure? 

Not at all. The 2012 Prius V, while a new model for Toyota, is essentially a wagon variant of an already-existing, proven car, the 2012 Prius, while the Chevrolet Volt is still very much in its infancy. For the most part, consumers will stick with technology they already know and are familiar with in tough economic climates than spend more money on new technology. 

In essence, the Volt is where the Prius was ten years ago.

Maybe not quite. As own John Voelcker has pointed out, the Chevy Volt sold 2,109 more cars in its first year than Toyota sold in the launch year of the first Toyota Prius, something we think everyone should remember. 


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Comments (8)
  1. Who couldn't of seen that one coming? Are you saying that it is going to take the Volt 10 years to catch up to the Pirus V sales they had in three months just because of the popularity of the old ICE Pirus? It is sad that GM has to justify the Volt's low sales like that.

  2. When Mr. Voelcker points out a discrepancy in first year sales
    between the Toyota Prius and the Chevy Volt (2109 units) an observation is made that begs some additional clarification. Had Toyota not taken the business risk and launched the ground braking Prius the Volt's path would of been much harder. That gap hardly seems formidable.
    "You take again the case of Toyota’s Prius, a pioneering product that is transforming the auto industry. By tilting the playing field toward cleaner cars that can be on the road today instead of betting the future on uncertain hydrogen roadmaps for tomorrow, Toyota is not waiting for the necessary infrastructure or public policy support to emerge. The company is shaping today as well as tomorrow.."

  3. While both automakers do take on big financial risks, I wouldn’t think both need any meaningful infrastructure change. It’s really hard to say a product in more ground breaking than the other or lack thereof. Changing public’s perception; however, is arguably putting Tesla in front of Toyota, IMHO. Tesla Roadster’s catalytic effect to GM’s Volt would in turn push Toyota’s Prius to add on their plug-in and future evolution. In Volt’s case, it may benefit a little more on affordable public charging infrastructure. But one can argue it’s a baby step compared to Leaf’s leap of faith.

  4. B4 there was a Tesla there was an all-electric Toyota RAV4 EV in the mid-nineties as part of CARB's ZEV mandate. With Toyota every vehicle propulsion system, including H has been under consideration since Toyota's Global20 initiative. Hybrid Synergy Drive is a platform that can support anything from pure hybrids, electrics to hydrogen. No other vehicle b4 the Prius did more to change the public and even auto-makers perceptions in recent automotive history. If the Prius (to go before) had never existed it would be difficult to believe GM (Robert Lutz) would even have developed the Volt.

  5. I think Nikki has got it right here. People know the Prius brand at this point can purchase a Prius V with confidence. The Chevy Volt is a big unknown and will be for some time. That will slow down sales.

  6. Son-of-a-gun, John; you got a minus point??? Tell me this rag doesn't favortise GM now. It's like Mike Wadas below said, "GM is greedy and priced themselves out of the market." You cannot force a consumer to purchase an over priced product and put themselves in a bind or in debt for a decade or more.

  7. OOPS. >

  8. It's not that it is a better car, it's because GM is greedy and they priced themselves out of the market.

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