Toyota Prius Continues To Trounce Honda's Insight In Global Hybrid Sales

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2013 Honda Insight

2013 Honda Insight

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The Toyota Prius has come a long way since hitting the market over a decade ago.

Back then, at the turn of the 21st century, it was no more than a fuel efficient but ultimately unappealing curio, bought only by a select few.

Fast-track to 2012 and it was one of the world's highest-selling cars, with 389,932 units hitting the streets globally. That's impressive by anyone's standards, but it must have rival Honda wondering exactly how it could have got its Insight so wrong.

The Insight is by no means a bad car, but its 22,440 global sales in 2012 is just one seventeenth the number of Prius sold the same year.

Look into the numbers further, via the Best Selling Cars Blog, and the statistics are even more galling. Insight sales were little over a third that of the Lexus CT 200h, which made over 63,000 units in 2012. Luxury hybrids don't sell anything like that of their more humble counterparts but Toyota must be pleased with the Prius-based CT.

Other versions of the Prius dominated the hybrid sales totals too. The Toyota Prius C (and Aqua, as it's badged internationally) sold 313,437 units in 2012. The Prius V (also known as the Prius A, and Prius+) shifted 184,838 units.

At the other end of the scale, one Toyota product didn't do so well: The Lexus HS 250h.

While the HS slithered off sale in the U.S. in 2012 due to poor sales, it's still on sale elsewhere. It seems the HS isn't overly popular internationally either, with just 5,727 sold last year. Its Toyota cousin, the Sai (not sold in the U.S.) did a little better at 8,543.

Honda's other dedicated hybrid, the Honda CR-Z sports coupe, fared a little better still. 16,123 units is small beans in the greater scheme of things, but not a million miles off the Insight, which in theory should appeal to a much broader audience.

It's worth noting that other hybrids might have sold more units (and some probably fewer), but the models above are all dedicated hybrid models, with no regular gasoline or diesel equivalents.

There's a fair chance that models like the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Toyota Yaris Hybrid also rank highly in terms of global sales--while some luxury hybrids like the Porsche Panamera or BMW ActiveHybrid 5 are a little further down.

There aren't many dedicated hybrid models on sale today across the world, but it seems like Toyota has found the formula for how to sell them.


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Comments (8)
  1. The Toyota Prius was the top-selling car in California for 2012. That says a lot.

  2. Honda should re-think their image. Just about anything they build is not green. Lets be sure we all understand this company, Honda, is one of the leading polluters of our planet.
    Ever think about how many motorcycles, lawn mowers, and other small IC(internal combustion) engine powered devices this company sells worldwide ? None of these small ic devices carry pollution controls. With all that technology why can't Honda make electric or battery tools to replace the internal combustion ones? They make crazy robots and use the technology to wow so many people, but still make the most harmful contraptions on the planet. This company has spun a yarn about their "green" image- don't believe it !

  3. I have a 2010 Honda Insight, it's a very good car.

    I don't know why Honda can't sell them, it's something in the marketing,
    or product touch.

    technically to me, it's gorgeous, but, it's real complicated. Lots of switches and buttons everywhere, it's like piloting an F-16,

  4. Last year I bought a 2012 Insight and love it. While the Insight will never come close in sales to the Prius it should be doing much better but as you mention there is no marketing. When I was looking for a new car I had never even heard of the Honda Insight, the Insight just caught my attention while browsing dealership sites.

  5. The prius C gets a real world, driven by me, on my drive, 50+ mpg. What does honda get? I think it's lower isn't it.

  6. Yes the mpg is a bit less, I get 44 mpg pretty much regardless of where I'm driving. This is fine for me since I accidently fell into the hybrid market while just looking for a reliable new car. Personally, after owning my Insight I no longer look at ICE vehicles as viable replacements, and can guarantee my future vehicles will be either EV or hybrid. While there are many who bash the Insight,it's an inexpensive vehicle to get someone acclimated to "green" cars, so it does help the market as a whole to advance.

  7. This isn't too surprising. The Insight didn't really differentiate itself vs the Prius, and Toyota has had mainstream hybrids (The original Insight was ahead of the game, but it has been a long time since then.) for years. If the Prius is comparable to the Insight, why choose Honda over Toyota especially when Toyota has spent a much longer time perfecting their battery systems ( has some good info on it).

  8. The original Honda Insight was rated at 70 mpg (which was wishful thinking) but my real world, lifetime MPG for my current 2001 Insight is 57.8 mpg. My disappointment in the newer version of the Insight is that the MPGs went down. I expected the next generation of Insights to be getting 70+ mpg. Hence my next car will not be an Insight but more likely a range extended electric vehicle like the Chevy Volt (though I love japanese engineering). Since I drive about 30 miles a day I could get by on the Volt's battery alone for most of my driving and only burn gas when making longer trips. But in the end I sure wish Honda had a range extended electric vehicle.

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