The Toyota Prius family may hold the distinction of being on the best-selling cars in the eco-conscious enclave of California, but in the rest of the country, its popularity is often dependent on gas prices, and low prices at the pump compared to last year is making Toyota adjust its 2013 sales projections for the three-vehicle hybrid line, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Toyota had projected Prius sales of more than 250,000 units for the year, higher than 2012's sales total. First quarter sales of Prius-branded vehicles were down 8.4 percent for the first quarter of 2013. Although sales are down for the Prius line, sales for other Toyota and Lexus hybrid models are up by 2.4 percent.
Jim Lentz, Toyota's North American CEO, kept a positive perspective, noting that there are over 2 million Toyota hybrid owners in the U.S., many of whom are return customers, and said the company did not feel threatened by the expansion of Ford's hybrid offerings.
Secondarily, the slowdown in Prius demand may delay the start of Prius production in the U.S., something that had been in the works for the past few years, most likely at the company's recently-opened Mississippi plant that currently makes the Corolla compact sedan.