Toyota Prius, a car launched for the first time 15 years ago, made its way up to the world’s third best selling car in the first quarter, mainly due to increased demand in the U.S. and government subsidies for eco-friendly cars in Japan.
Toyota returned to the world’s best carmaker position in the quarter, thanks to the Prius sales surge, after a period of two years of production difficulties and recalls of the model. The company sold 247,200 Prius cars in the first quarter, being outnumbered only by its other model Corolla, with 300,800 units, and Ford’s Focus model, with 277,000 units.
Sales of the Prius in Japan have more than tripled in the first quarter, to 175,000, from 52,500 last year. The main driver was the Aqua subcompact, which is sold in the U.S. and elsewhere under the name Prius C.
“It was good that introduction of Aqua and the start of government subsidies happened almost at the same time,” said a senior analyst at BNP Paribas in Tokyo. He added that Toyota will most likely manage to hold a high level of sales even after the subsidies end.