After 19 months of holding the crown for best-selling vehicle in Japan, the Toyota Prius has been toppled. Moving 1162 more units last month, the top seller in the Land of the Rising Sun is now the 2011 Honda Fit.
The Toyota Prius had been able to continue its sales momentum by taking advantage of a government incentive on fuel-efficient cars. Last fall, the Prius suffered a one-two-punch when the Japanese government ended the program in September, and the following month Honda released an updated Fit subcompact with a hybrid version. When the January 2011 totals came in, the Toyota Prius has sold 13,711 units and Honda had sold 14,873 Fits, a winning difference of 1162 cars.
“I don’t know (if the reason is because) our sales grew or the Prius sales dropped. But I don’t really mind,” stated Honda President, Takanobu Ito, while at a press event.
However, Toyota isn’t alone in being hit by the softened demand caused by the loss of the government rebate; Honda saw profits fall by 40 percent from October to December of last year. The new sales title doesn’t mean that all is coming up roses for Honda. Toyota is readying additional models to add to the Prius family (such as the Prius C concept and the Prius V revealed in Detroit last month, and the Prius + being revealed next month in Geneva) and has just introduced an all-new Vitz subcompact -- sold in the U.S. as the Yaris -- directly competing with Honda's Fit. The Vitz has been Toyota’s best-selling product only after the Prius, selling 11,018 vehicles in January.
Source: The Wall Street Journal