Toyota Prius sales declined for the fourth consecutive year in 2016. Fortunately, the RAV4 Hybrid arrived just in time to pick up some of the slack to become the automaker’s second best selling hybrid model.

The Prius lineup consisting of the Prius Liftback, Prius v wagon, Prius c compact hatchback and Prius Prime plug-in hybrid saw sales plunge 24 percent last year to just 136,632 units.

The sales decline can be attributed to low gasoline prices, more competitve models on the market and the fact that consumers are bypassing cars for crossover SUVs of any size.

The hybrid SUV was pioneered by Ford in 2004 with its Escape Hybrid, and then walked away from in 2013.

RAV4 Hybrids hit dealer showroom sin November 2015 as a 2016 model just as gas prices took a nose dive, and surprisingly its 45,097 sales pushed it to the number two selling hybrid vehicle.

SEE ALSO: Consumer Reports Says 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Beats EPA MPG on Highway, Falls Well Short In City

Bob Carter, senior vice president-automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. told WardsAuto the RAV4 Hybrid wasn’t the blame for the Prius’ sales decline.

“I was glad to have that vehicle, because people were coming out of (the) Prius, preferred a utility body, and here’s a vehicle that provides almost the same benefits, but with a utility body,” Carter said. “The timing was almost impeccable for it.”

Toyota could have sold more RAV4 Hybrids last year because supplies were restricted, but Carter said the company is now in a better position.

“We got to a good stocking level very late in the year, but most of the year that (model) was supply-restricted. It came in at about 13 percent of the mix, and it should be a little higher than that,” Carter said of the proportion of RAV4 Hybrid sales to total sales of the RAV4.

Toyota is projecting 400,000 RAV4 sales in 2017, and of that is hoping that 15 percent, or 60,000 units will be the hybrid variant.

Should the Prius have another 24 percent sales plunge in 2017 and the RAV4 Hybrid edge past the 60,000-unit projection it could end up as the 2017 hybrid sales leader.