The world’s most popular hybrid, for better or for worse, is the Toyota Prius. It went from being a car freak or niche to a model that wants to be a bestseller. It has succeeded in its home market, Japan, where is the best selling car for several consecutive months, and holds the historical annual sales record for a single model, which robbed the Corolla.
Since the model 2009 (third generation, 3G Prius for friends) drive demand eclipses the capacity of the factory in Japan, working in three shifts and is not able to give rough. Besides Japan, manufactured in China and Thailand to supply their local markets.
In the United States is quite successful, limited by the amount you can come by boat from Japan, and therefore manufactured there. Before the recession, there was a plan to manufacture Toyota also hybrid in Mississippi about 2010, but the Japanese are very unfriendly to risk and the decision left fallow.
The factory, its Achilles heel
Last month, the brand sold 21% more than in 2010 in the U.S. , and the Prius is a key model in the sales scheme. Although we have the stereotype that America is the land of big horse, ride or walk, the truth is that when gasoline raises them become more ecological, as all my neighbors.
It sells very well the Prius family in that country, especially in California. In the last month, for every 100 units sold, 62 were of normal pattern, 15 of the Prius V ( Prius + in Europe and family), 16 of the Prius C (Aqua in Japan) and 7 were Plug-in (plug).
To avoid running out of demand will continue to meet, are looking for suppliers within the country to begin manufacturing the car there, without being dependent on Japan, and are satisfied with domestic demand. Moreover, it would relieve pressure on the saturated Japanese plant. For the next generation (Prius 4G) everything should be ready.
And in Europe, what?
In Europe is not much of a problem for two reasons. The first is that there is strong competition from diesel models, and approvals are getting very close to that of the Prius, which runs on gasoline. The consumer is not so clear advantage in consumption in that sense, at least where diesel is not penalized with high taxes.
Furthermore, there are alternatives. The Auris HSD is manufactured in Europe, and only for Europe, United Kingdom. The British factory is not saturated, it is also aesthetically more conventional model, with less lead time, and with the same mechanics. Too bad the worst boot and you spend a little more on the open road for aerodynamics.
Down a little over budget, is the Yaris HSD, which is beginning to market now. Mechanically similar to the Prius C / Aqua (bottom), but is manufactured in France, and has no problem of excess demand, which itself happens to your family member Japanese production. there a waiting list several months.
Before Honda’s competition was a problem, especially in the first and second generation, but since 2009 Honda hybrids have not the stroke since there is a Prius. The Civic Hybrid was discontinued, and the Insight has not yielded the expected results, despite a spectacular start selling the first half of 2009.
Now Honda is not a concern for hybrid sales in Europe, just compare the sales figures for hybrids and other brand. But Honda is already working in the rematch , parking system IMA and developing a more advanced, in which the electric motor is not a mere assistance, but a self-propelling.
What will the fourth generation of the Prius? Honestly, I have no idea. In the wake of 2G to 3G, will do more business to access more buyers than before or it would include a look. If the amount of manufacturable units no longer the bottleneck, you should repeat or improve sales success of 3G.