Toyota will unveil a family of Priuses at next week’s Detroit auto show—but that’s just the beginning of its big plans for the quintessential hybrid. The company is planning to make Prius its top-selling line of vehicles by the end of this decade.
“We will end the decade with Prius being the number one nameplate in the industry,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s group vice president for U.S. sales, in a Bloomberg report. Carter said that Camry, Toyota’s long-time top-selling U.S. model, will fall behind Prius by 2020.
Toyota Prius sales were down by 2 percent through November, and could end the year basically flat compared to 2009. But with the introduction of several different versions of the Prius—and with rising gas prices and increasing government pressure on automakers to increase fuel efficiency—the line of Prius models could sell at much higher numbers.
With the introduction of plug-in cars—the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF—the 50-mpg Prius is no longer the most fuel-efficient model available in the United States. Yet, the Volt and LEAF are expected to sell in relatively low numbers, even with generous government incentives.
Meanwhile, Toyota sold approximately 150,000 units of the Prius in the U.S. in 2010, and more than 315,000 in Japan—making it the number one seller in Japan for the past 19 consecutive months and the biggest seller in a single year ever in Japan.