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An initial look at Toyota's sales numbers released yesterday sounded great for the gunning-for-number-one Japanese automaker โ€” sales were up 8.5% over the same period last year โ€” 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 โ€” why did it happen? More after the jump.

Well, if you listen to Toyota's PR โ€” normally something we don't do โ€” 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 โ€” we dunno โ€” ever, maybe? And yet if demand is outpacing supply and supply is lower this month than the corresponding month last year โ€” that would seem to us to mean a couple of things. Two possibilities for y'all to discuss in the comments are below โ€” or add your own:

#1.) Too much demand for hybrids. Maybe they are right โ€” 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 โ€” but it's worth investigating.

#2.) Toyota's losing money on the Prius. We're probably totally wrong on this one โ€” but we're gonna float it anyway. What if Toyota's losing money on the Prius in general โ€” and to increase capacity to build more โ€” it would just cause them to lose more money? Does the marketing value peak for Toyota at a certain point โ€” and have they hit it โ€” deciding not to go beyond it.


We dunno if either possibility is really truly the cause โ€” 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 โ€” Sales Are Up And Down [internal]