2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid: 3rd Fastest-Selling Car In U.S.?

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2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production version road test, San Diego, CA, Jan 2012

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production version road test, San Diego, CA, Jan 2012

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What makes a new car a success? Is it the awards it wins, initial sales figures, how many people order it, or the average amount of time it stays on a dealer lot before being sold? 

Together, all of the above help us work out which cars are popular and which ones aren’t, but according to Cars.com (via Autobloggreen), the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is proving to be a runaway hit on dealer lots nationwide. 

Quick to sell

Using nationwide car sales data for the months of March and April, Cars.com concluded that on average, Toyota’s plug-in hybrid spends just five days on the dealer lot before being sold. 

During March, that made the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid the second fastest selling car in the United States. During April, it came third to the recently-launched 2013 BMW X3 and 2013 BMW X5, both of which sold in an average of four days. 

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production version road test, San Diego, CA, Jan 2012

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production version road test, San Diego, CA, Jan 2012

Enlarge Photo

Fast-selling ≠ High sales

But before getting too excited about the speed at which the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid, we need to remember that it has only been on sale since the end of February. 

From launch until the end of April, Toyota had sold 2,552 plug-in Priuses, leading plug-in car sales during April. Examine its sales figures in the wider automotive world however, and its sales figures aren’t all that large. 

To put it into perspective, Toyota only sold 1,654 plug-in Priuses in April. Ford sold over 4.7 times that amount of 2012 Mustangs during the same period, and yet the average Mustang waits on the dealer lot for more than eleven weeks before being sold. 

On sales alone, it’s pretty easy to see the 2012 Ford Mustang is more popular than the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid. It just takes longer to sell. 

Supply, demand

That last fact brings us neatly to the question of supply versus demand. 

As with many new cars, initial pre-sales hype combined with pre-order waiting lists often means that demand for the car is higher than the number of cars being produced. 

Even when all pre-orders have been satisfied, cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, with production numbers that can be measured in thousands and tens-of-thousands rather than millions, will still sell quickly for a few months following launch. 

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production version road test, San Diego, CA, Jan 2012

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production version road test, San Diego, CA, Jan 2012

Enlarge Photo

Look to long-term success

After a few months, it is clear that demand for the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is high, and that any cars that are delivered to dealers are snapped up quickly by customers eager to make the switch to a plug-in car. 

Initial sales successes can be transient, however. In order to truly become a popular, in-demand, quickly-selling car, Toyota will have to replicate the initial sales burst for the next year or more. 

Only then will we really know for sure. 

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