Toyota to Fox News: Hybrids Are Popular

Last week, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto spoke with Toyota Motor Sales President and CEO Jim Lentz about the market for hybrids, gasoline prices, and buyer preferences.

The interview followed Toyota setting yet another Prius sales record with nearly 29,000 total Prius variants sold, the launch of the plug-in Prius, and continued solid sales for the improved Camry hybrid, among other vehicles.

An outspoken skeptic of the Chevrolet Volt, Fox’s “Your World” Host Cavuto probed with a similar edge to his questioning, asking whether the rise of hybrids “is all this just a mountain of dust?”

Lentz fielded the questions with facts and observations that much does hinge around gas prices.

“Hybrids were almost 19 percent of our sales,” he said. “But if you go back a year ago, hybrids in our case were still almost 15 percent of our sales.”

He noted also that it’s not just a higher dollar price for gasoline that triggers a rush the hybrid dealer’s showroom floor, it’s also the rate of increase – a sudden spike tends to make people react more.

Cavuto egded into questions also about cost-benefit analyses, and Lentz, while acknowledging some buyers do closely analyze, said many do not, and merely make decisions based on monthly payments or bottom line as to whether a purchase makes sense for them.

The interview could be seen to illustrate some of the subjective and objective aspects of the sales process. It’s long been said buyers ultimately make decisions based on “feelings.”

As it is, while Cavuto and Lentz seemed separated in their perspective, both could agree that fuel prices are a key trigger to feelings that spur buyers.


Lentz had also noted that some hybrid buyers do so for principled reasons like a desire to reduce dependence on oil, to save the environment, and other complementary ideals.

To this, Cavuto asked are hybrids merely the “toys of the well-to-do?”

“Not necessarily,” Lentz said. “I think – I cannot tell you about Volt’s situation, because I don’t know their particular demographics, but in the case of Prius, we have sold over a million Priuses here in the U.S. They are not all just to people with wealth. There are a lot of middle-income people buying the car. And quite frankly they are coming back into the market now.”

The interview politely ends with Cavuto saying it’s always good to have Lentz on the show.


  • MrEnergyCzar

    Boy he hates efficient cars, that’s for sure… not much opportunity for bashing Toyota..

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Capt. Concernicus

    I think Mr. Lentz’s comment, “I think – I cannot tell you about Volt’s situation, because I don’t know their particular demographics…” was a PC good response to Mr. Cavuto.

    I looked at the Prius C. For me personally, it’s just a little too small. I’d really be interested in the PIP, but price is what will keep me from buying one. Oh well, I’ll just stick with my 2nd gen Prius.

    Almost 29,000 Prii sold last month? That’s quite a few of them.

  • Alex_007

    Conservative shows hosts always have a way of turning sentences around so that it makes them look better than so-called liberals.

    In this case, I felt like he was always trying to make Lentz admit that the Prius wasn’t a great car. Of course this didn’t happen but I can’t help but wonder what exactly does Neil Cavuto have to win by doing this?

  • Chip Daigle

    Cavuto and Hannity have been pushing hybrids for years. Hannity even pushes them on his Radio Show.

  • Chip Daigle

    Why did GM lay off the Volt people? I thought they said it was do to low sales for the $40K Volt!!! Was that a lie???

  • Van

    It is too early to get a read on the PIP market, only 911 were sold in the last Dashboard I read. I think when the numbers are in for this quarter, Apr, May, June, then we can evaluate buyer “feelings” for the $32,000 base price PIP.

    OTOH, there can be no question about the validity of buyer decisions to go with the current generation of Prius vehicles. They are selling like gang-busters, easily twice the rate of sales on last year, in part due to the new larger and new smaller models.

    One observation that should be made is we are engaged in a process to wean buyers of fossil fuel only cars. Regular hybrids get them used to the superior performance of electric drive (higher gas mileage, quieter operation, and less pollution) and then as more and more buy plug-ins (which I believe will occur with the next generation battery) they will come to where we stand now, asking why did this great step forward take so long?

  • fireworks

    Yea, right. Hybrids are indeed popular these days.

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  • greg45

    I think he is so right about this. The hybrids are definitely getting more and more popular. I see nothing but a good future here. Keep up the good work here. BVI credit card

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    I always had so many doubts about the working, the performance , and overall everything about a hybrid car. But knowing that the need of hybrid cars are raising surely makes me think different. Now maybe i should also test drive one and try to buy them as these gasoline prices are killing me. My work here at microsoft virus removal tool

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