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Prius C Throws Down Sales Gauntlet

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On: Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 9:54AM | By: Chris Salamone

Prius C Throws Down Sales Gauntlet

Since last week, any doubts we’ve had about the potential market for Toyota’s new-entry Prius c have been erased. This brand new Prii has suddenly become one of Toyota’s fastest-selling vehicles and churned up loads of media attention in the meantime. But strong sales and media support really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Toyota is actually attempting to give people what they want – rather than forcing something undesirable down our collective gullet.

In the Prius c’s first three days of sales Toyota moved 1,201 units, a quantity which overshadows Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt sales over the entire preceding month.

“A number of factors drive the auto market, and fuel prices is one of them,” said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division. “With 53 miles-per-gallon in the city and priced under $19,000, the timing for Prius c couldn’t be better.”

If we’re being realistic, this seems sort of obvious. Of course people will buy cheap, fuel efficient vehicles that already have a strong reputation for performing well. Which really means Toyota shouldn’t be comparing the Prius c to the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt.

The Leaf and Volt are amazing machines. They might even represent the beginning of the future for the auto industry. While, on the other hand, Toyota’s Prius c could be considered a last ditch effort to make fuel-powered individual combustion engines an efficient means of transportation. Engineers have known for a long time that cars would eventually need a new source of power, if efficiency and performance were to remain vital consumer interests. Even so, initial sales of the Prius c remain impressive and suggest something quite important about customer demand: buyers are starting to think rationally.

Gone are the days when bigger was better, tailfins reigned supreme, and we built an entire city on rock n’ roll. American buyers are ‘starting’ to cultivate practical purchasing habits – but still preferring the glossy new finish of a $19,000 hybrid to a pre-owned subcompact which achieves similar cost savings on a lesser budget. So what does that mean for the US economy? We’ve traditionally relied on unnecessary consumption as a means of maintaining and measuring economic success. As we transition into a newfound rational world with Prii, Leafs, and Volts, how will intentional thriftiness impact an economy built on wasteful spending?

Maybe expensive eco-friendly car models will offset the trend, but the Prius c favors affordability over novelty. In the coming years, as we continue to evolve toward logical purchasing, who knows what Americans will do with all that extra cash in our pockets saved from post-recession buying habits. Here’s to hoping we surprise everyone and actually start to create products again, rather than supporting an economy of superfluous services. Here’s to the Prius c and one small step for man…

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