An initial look at Toyota's sales numbers released yesterday sounded great for the gunning-for-number-one Japanese automaker — sales were up 8.5% over the same period last year — and that was with last year's extra selling day. But teased out of those numbers is something interesting. Despite a rise in gas prices during the month of April, the gas-electric hybrid Prius saw a drop in sales of 24.6%. That's absolutely huge! But that seems totally contra-indicative — why did it happen? More after the jump.
Well, if you listen to Toyota's PR — normally something we don't do — we get the following explanation:
Demand for the Prius gas-electric hybrid continues to outweigh supply, with sales totaling 8,234 units for the month.
Now that's really interesting, cause the Prius has been on the market for like — we dunno — ever, maybe? And yet if demand is outpacing supply and supply is lower this month than the corresponding month last year — that would seem to us to mean a couple of things. Two possibilities for y'all to discuss in the comments are below — or add your own:
#1.) Too much demand for hybrids. Maybe they are right — but maybe it's not demand for the Prius per se. Rather, maybe it's demand for hybrids in general. Could it be causing supply chain problems with key components? We dunno — but it's worth investigating.
#2.) Toyota's losing money on the Prius. We're probably totally wrong on this one — but we're gonna float it anyway. What if Toyota's losing money on the Prius in general — and to increase capacity to build more — it would just cause them to lose more money? Does the marketing value peak for Toyota at a certain point — and have they hit it — deciding not to go beyond it.
We dunno if either possibility is really truly the cause — but what we do agree on is it's totally back-assward for Toyota to be making less of a product which has huge pent-up demand. There must be some explanation for it.
Toyota Reports April Sales [Toyota]
Breaking! Mixed-Message Day At Ford — Sales Are Up And Down [internal]