Meanwhile In Japan: Hot Hybrids

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
meanwhile in japan hot hybrids

While sales of hybrids and plugins languish in the US, and are, for all intents and purposes, non-existent in Europe, in Japan, “the popularity of Honda Motor Co.’s Insight hybrid and the even greater popularity of Toyota Motor Corp.’s new Prius highlights that eco-friendly models are one of the few bright spots for automakers,” the Nikkei [sub] reports.

According to the Nikkei, “Honda’s Insight hybrid, released in February, became the best-selling model among all passenger cars, excluding minivehicles, in April.” Sales will heat up further after Toyota unveiled their third-generation Prius on Monday.

“Toyota dealers in Japan received 80,000 orders for the latest version of the carmaker’s Prius petrol-electric hybrid ahead of its official launch yesterday, a much higher volume than expected as the company had cut prices to fend off a challenge from its emerging green-car rival Honda,” the Financial Times writes. “The enthusiastic response to the third-generation Prius, which Toyota will begin selling outside Japan in a few weeks, appeared likely to propel it to the top of the domestic sales rankings.”

“Honda dealers have no intention of conceding to the newly arrived Toyota model,” mentions the Nikkei in dispatches from the hybrid front. In Honda showrooms, salesfolk stress the price competitiveness of the Insight, and throw in extra upgrade packages.

In contrast, Japanese companies without green cars get deeper into the reds.

At hybrid-less Mitsubishi, sales have been particularly weak since Toyota started taking orders for the new Prius in April. Mitsubishi dealerships even are forced to help customers buy a Toyota. When drivers wish to replace their Mitsubishi car with a hot hybrid, Mitsubishi dealers have no other choice than locate a Prius.

Fuji Heavy’s CEO Ikuo Mori said today that the maker of Subaru hopes to launch a hybrid model by 2012 by taking advantage of its alliance with Toyota, The Nikke i [sub] writes. Better late than never.

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  • M1EK M1EK on May 20, 2009

    Dude. The Prius is still in the top 20; still outselling Buick and Mercury and Saturn *brands*. Very few cars wouldn't be 'languishing' by that metric.

  • Quasimondo Quasimondo on May 20, 2009

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Subaru will get stiffed.

  • Alan I blame COVID, the chip shortage, container shortage and the war in Ukraine. This aggression is evident in normal daily driving of late.
  • Alan $10 000 is a bit rich for a vehicle that most likely been flogged all its life, plus it's a VW. Lots of electrical gremlins live in them.
  • Alan Mitsubishi, Hino and Izuzu trucks are quite common in Australia. Another factor that needs to be taken into account are the cheap Chinese trucks and vans that are entering the market in Australia and becoming more popular as reliability improves, with huge warranties. Businesses want the cheapest logistics. Plumbers, concreters, builders buy many of these in their lightest versions, around 2.5 tonne payload. Hino/Toyota could use the cheaper competitor in Mitsubishi as a competitor against the Chinese. You don't see too many of the Japanese/Asian trucks in the rural areas.
  • 2ACL I think it's a good choice. The E89 didn't get respect due to its all-around focus when new, but it's aged well, and the N52/6HP combo is probably more fun and capable than it's given credit for.
  • Wjtinfwb I can hear the ticking from here...