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Toyota Prius Hybrid Family: Which Models Are Most Successful?

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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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For 12 years, the Toyota Prius hybrid stood alone in the growing lineup of Toyota vehicles.

Then, for 2012, the Prius model became a whole family of cars--four of them, in fact.

So which of the new Prius family members is doing the best so far, and which kid is lagging and might benefit from some after-school tutoring?

Actually, it turns out, all three new models are doing pretty well--raising Prius sales substantially this year over last year's figures.

Through September, the company has sold 183,340 Toyota Prius models. That compares to 136,453 in all of 2011, and 140,928 the year before.

That total puts the company on pace to sell roughly 245,000 Priuses this year, a whopping 79-percent increase over last year.

Of those, by far the largest share--64 percent, or 117,258 cars--is the standard, know-it-from-100-feet Prius Liftback, the 50-mpg five-door hatchback last redesigned in 2010.

That number is only 26 percent higher than Liftback sales over the same nine-month period last year, meaning the rest of the increase comes from the three new siblings.

After the Liftback, the biggest share of Prius sales comes from the 2012 Toyota Prius V wagon, which reached the market exactly a year ago, in October 2011.

It represents 17.6 percent of this year's Prius sales, at 32,218 sold--plus another 8,473 last year.

Indeed, the hybrid wagon was arguably the most logical "next Prius," offering a roomier model for growing families that retained the Prius looks and virtues.

Its EPA combined rating is 42 mpg, higher than any other wagon or crossover utility vehicle.

After the wagon comes the 2012 Toyota Prius C subcompact hatchback, which went on sale in February.

It represents 14.3 percent of the year's Prius sales, but that number is a bit deceptive, because since March, it's provided 16 to 19 percent of each month's Prius total.

2012 Toyota Prius C

2012 Toyota Prius C

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The littler Prius is also rated at a combined 50 mpg, though its city rating is higher (53 mpg) and its highway rating is lower (47 mpg) than the Prius Liftback (51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway).

Finally, there's the fourth sibling, the geeky one with the electric cord.

The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, to give it its full name, has been a sales success among the growing number of plug-in cars offered in the U.S. market.

It too entered the market in February, and through September it racked up sales of 7,734--or 4.2 percent of the Prius total.

That number puts it in a solid second place, after the Chevy Volt, in the rankings of U.S. plug-in sales through September--well ahead of the Nissan Leaf battery-electric car.

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

All of these numbers, by the way, are close to projections for the Toyota Prius hybrid model mix made early this year by executives.

The company expected the standard Prius Liftback to represent about two-thirds of sales, with the Prius V wagon and the Prius C subcompact each logging 15 percent, and the plug-in Prius coming in around 5 percent.

What's behind those surging sales of Prius hybrids, by the way?

We suspect the numbers may have been helped by high fuel costs this year, especially the recent highest-ever gas prices in California (long a Prius sales stronghold).

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Comments (12)
  1. Well done Toyota. I think it shows the value of having a range of products in different sizes, price points, and with different features. The "family" has allows more people to purchase a Prius that had not before due to some perceived limitation.

    Now if they could only get someone to help with the design work...
     
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  2. Some Prius buyers have told me that they prefer the "distinct" look so they can let others know that they are driving one of the most efficient hybrid on the road and they care about environment...

    In California, some of that has to do with "social" fit behavoirs...
     
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  3. Prii John, not Priuses...you should know better then that. Toyota has used that term for over a year now.

    And rock solid reliability, top safety scores plus ease of use are other primary reasons will the Prius family of vehicles have sold so well. My bet is that 2013 will see another 30% rise in sales for Prii models as each model will have finally have a full year under its belt.

    Now where's my lighter, smaller, lower two door hatch Prius built for the best mpg in the family that may actually double the mpg of the CR-Z? Toyota...you listening? And plug-in options for all Prius family members next year, right? With at least 25 miles all EV range????
     
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  4. @Erik: Toyota may use the term "Prii," but we don't. It's confusing to non-initiates, whereas the word "Priuses" is immediately obvious.
     
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  5. I want my plug-in V. Hurry up already Toyota!
     
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  6. I would buy that plug-in Prius V if it has more than 30 miles in E-range.
     
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  7. I think Prius V is a great product. Very practical! As much as I dislike Prius, I have to admit that I have thought about owning a Prius V...

    Prius C is also a great "marketing" idea. Perfect for crowded city such as SF. But I will never buy one.

    Prius Liftback (Gen III) has its reputation and some people will buy it just b/c it is "Prius". Since its price is so competitive now. It makes sense to buy one. But neither my wife or I will ever buy it.

    Now Prius Plugin, where do I start? I think it is a LAME attempt by Toyota and awesome crafty marketing to "scam" the people and the system. First, Toyota could have done way better than the competition with a much longer EV range. But it chooses to do minimium.
     
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  8. Oh, Just about EVERY Prius Plugin owners have the Green HOV stickers in California AND just about every single one of them "claim" that it gets 15 miles Electric range while IN FACT they admit that they don't get that range.

    It is AMAZING how Toyota has "scammed" the public with its "claimed" 15 miles EV range or the "mixed" EPA 11 miles range while its TRUE EPA electric range of 6 miles are hidden as far away as possible...

    I say that is some amazing marketing work that other automakers should take a lesson from.

    Now, I would like to find out what is the percentage of Prius Plugin buyers that owned a Prius previously? In my unscientific poll, just about every Pip buyer had a Prius previously... (~9 Pip owners)
     
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  9. How can you think the Prius V is a great product while at the same time dislike the Prius? It's essentially the same vehicle...
     
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  10. B/c it is more practical. If I have to drive a Prius with its poor performance, bad handling and braking, I should at least make it up by hauling more stuff. It is sort like a "minivan" arguement. Minivan don't drive all that well, but it is sure more practical than anything else out there.

    Prius V has enough carrying capacity to match a crossover with still great MPG. So, sacrificing some performance is almost worthy the choice. But Prius C and Prius don't bring much to the table except for great MPG but not much else.

    Like I said in many articles, that is too much to give up for some slight improvment in MPG. Plugin hybrids can produce significant increase in efficiency without giving up too much performance.
     
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  11. "Its EPA combined rating is 42 mpg, higher than any other wagon or crossover utility vehicle."

    Is that correct? The Jetta TDI SportWagen is also rated at 42 MPG by the EPA, not that that rating is worth anything. But the Prius V does certainly not have combined rating "higher than any other wagon or crossover utility vehicle." And I am glad that is not the case.
     
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  12. @Annatar: I'm afraid that's not correct. The EPA *combined* fuel efficiency rating for the 2012 VW Jetta TDI Sportwagen is 34 mpg with the manual, 33 mpg with the DSG automatic:

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/PowerSearch.do?action=noform&path=1&year1=2012&year2=2012&make=Volkswagen&model=Jetta%20SportWagen

    The 42-mpg rating you cite is its highway rating.

    The sentence correctly says the Prius V wagon has a higher *combined* EPA rating than any other wagon or crossover.
     
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