Toyota Prius Prime Outsells the Chevy Volt In April

Last month the Toyota Prius Prime mildly outsold the Chevrolet Volt for the first time, and eyes will be on whether this becomes a new trend.

The Toyota’s 1,819 sales in April eclipsed the Volt’s 1,807 April sales, and it has been trailing the Volt’s cumulative best-seller status this year as well.

Through April, Chevrolet reported 7,370 sales for the 53-mile e-range Volt, and the 25-mile e-range Prius with a plug has 6,165.

The gap between the two is separated by 1,205 sales which if one were to look at the mere 12 sales more the Prime did last month, they might think that closing the distance would be a long time coming.

However, variances between the two of 300-500 sales in a month are not uncommon. To date the Volt has led the Prime by that much each month, so it is the Volt’s game to lose, but lose it could.

“I think the Prime will sell more than the Volt on a monthly basis going forward,” said Michigan-based analyst Alan Baum.

Whether that means the Prime will be the best-selling PHEV in 2017 is still too early to conjecture overly much, but Baum says “without conviction,” he suspects it might.

As has been observed before the Prius Prime hits a sweet spot that helps it overshadow the fact it offers only 25 miles EV range next to the Volt’s 53.

Until now its sales have been blamed on it just rolling out, but according to Toyota media rep Sam Butto, the Prime is now available for delivery in all 50 states, as has been true of the Volt.

Toyota’s plug-in is also on the rise because it’s priced midway within the Prius Liftback’s mid-20s-low 30s pricing scheme, offers actually slightly better mpg in hybrid mode than most Liftbacks – 54 mpg vs 52, and may look better too.

The unofficial consensus is the Prius Liftback hybrid is not easy on the eyes, but the Prime plug-in hybrid, the ostensible range topper, got slightly better styling for the same basic body for an overall more flattering look.

Exterior appearance is the top consideration among consumers in general, and the spec sheet for the Prime is alright too.

Baum also notes pent-up demand for the Prime remains among Toyota loyalists, and those who otherwise are bypassing the Chevy Volt. The former Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which had half the Prime’s 8.8-kWh battery size and effective range, was off the market a year and a half as Toyota developed the Prime.

So, it is riding that wave of demand for the Toyota-branded symbol of efficiency.

As for the Volt, there remains no question its powertrain does what people want from a plug-in hybrid better – it serves up twice the range and then some, and a foot to the floor won’t kick on the gas engine as it can in the Prius Prime.

However, in hybrid mode it gets just 42 mpg which affects its efficiency any time it’s not leaning on its superior EV range.

In the Volt’s favor is a middle back third “seating position” whereas Toyota chose to retrogress back to what the first-generation Volt was criticized for: a four passenger layout.

People also tend to like the looks of the Volt better, but alas, it is a compact car, and rear seating space is otherwise less than in the midsized Prius Prime.

The Volt is also more expensive: priced around $34,000 and up – about $6,000 more than the $28,000 and up Prime. A higher $7,500 federal tax credit helps the Volt close the gap between it and the Prime which gets a $4,500 federal credit.

Both cars have their benefits and drawbacks, the next eight months of the year will show what the market decides.

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