Two local Japanese newspapers reported yesterday that Toyota expects the all-new 2010 Toyota Prius to outsell its closest rival, the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid, when it goes on sale in mid-May.
Japanese news publications Chunichi and Nikkei reported that dealers in Japan have reported 20,000 orders of the 2010 Toyota Prius so far. Citing an unnamed Toyota official, the Nikkei said Toyota expects that number to double by the time the hybrid actually hits dealer lots in May.
Toyota has been preparing for a price war with Honda, which priced its 2010 Insight substantially below the expected price of the new Prius. Toyota responded by announcing that it will continue to sell stripped down versions of the 2009 Prius at the same price as the Insight, and that it will lower the price of the new 2010 model compared to the 2009 model. Analysts are projecting the new Prius will cost about ¥2.05 million ($20,750), significantly cheaper than the 2009 model's starting price of ¥2.33 million ($23,448).
The Insight, which is priced at ¥1.89 million ($19,021), did extremely well in its first month on the market. Honda moved about 18,000 units, almost quadrupling its initial sales target of 5,000 per month.
Japan is considering tax incentives for hybrid and electric vehicles of up to $3,000, which will likely stimulate sales of the Insight and Prius.