Toyota recently released the Prius C, a smaller version of Toyota’s uber-popular hybrid sedan that costs less than $20,000. Sales have been through the roof, so Toyota is increasing production of the Prius C to meet the demand.
Cheaper version of wildly popular car
The Toyota Prius is the most popular hybrid car in the world. According to AutoBlog, the car had sold 3 million units world wide as of October of 2010 and by spring of 2011, Toyota had sold 1 million Prius hybrids in the United States, the country that birthed the muscle car. For the entire year of 2011, according to Automobile magazine, 136,463 units of the Prius were sold in the U.S.
Demand has been high for the gas-sipping roomy hatchbacks and the lineup is expanding to include other models, including a plug-in hybrid version and also the Prius C, a smaller version that is several thousand dollars cheaper. It proved to be even more popular, as Toyota currently has more than 120,000 on order and sold 1,201 in the United States by March 15, three days after it went on sale.
In response to huge demand at the outset of the release of the car, Toyota has announced that it is going to increase production of the Prius C. Currently, only one plant makes the car, in Iwante, Japan. Toyota is planning to move production of another model, the Ractis, to a different plant and implement measures to increase efficiency.
The plan, according to AutoBlog, is to improve production capacity to 30,000 units per month or up to 360,000 per year. Currently, the Iwante plant is making 20,000 per month. Only 20 percent of Prius C models are designated for shipment to the U.S., so only 6,000 per month will arrive, an increase of up to 2,000 additional cars. Demand for the Prius C is going to remain through the roof for the foreseeable future.
Demand high for good reason
Most hybrids are several thousand dollars more expensive than gas models, meaning that gas savings over the lifetime of the vehicle are negated by the opportunity cost when the car is purchased. However, the Prius C starts, according to Toyota, at $18,950. It gets an EPA estimated 53 miles per gallon in city driving and 46 miles per gallon on the highway.
There are only two other hybrids on the market for less than $20,000 and both, the CR-Z and the Insight, are by Honda. The CR-Z gets less than 40 mpg, is more expensive than the Prius C at $19,545 and only seats two.
The Insight, at $18,350, is slightly cheaper than the Prius C, but gets worse mileage, at 41 mpg city and 44 highway. It also has slightly less passenger and cargo volume, but more legroom.