Chevy Volt sales climb, Toyota Prius hybrid sales soar
Volt posts huge percentage gain, Prius hits some big sales numbers
The Chevy Volt finally topped 2000 unit sales in one month, hitting 2,129 sales in March, which was a good step for the Volt. Still, in terms of pure numbers, the more interesting sale’s story was the Toyota Prius family. The Prius family reached 28,711 sales, while sales of Toyota and Lexus hybrid cars, combined, topped 38,215.
The Prius isn’t yet ready to catch Toyota’s sales king, the Camry, but Toyota’s contention that the Prius will top Camry sales by the end of this decade is beginning to seem believable. And then there’s the Volt.
The Volt’s March numbers were not that surprising, and I expect similar or even better numbers heading into summer. In my opinion, California carpool lane access while drive Volt sales higher at least through the summer. After that the Volt story becomes a bit more interesting. If GM can sustain a sale’s pace that would support around 30,000 cars through the end of this year, I’d call that a success.
And we’ll leave the Volt story there because if Republicans take over Washington, the Volt could become a serious casualty as I don’t believe it will sell more than 1,000 units per month — and that’s even too optimistic — if plug-in tax credits are squashed by the elephants. On the other hand, if Democrats fortify their positions, a $10,000 point of sale tax credit should provide a solid lift for Volt sales some time next year.
Still, it’s Prius and Toyota hybrid sales that really have my attention. Almost 40,000 battery-powered sales, in one month. Other automakers can’t even do that in a year. But is it sustainable? Will limited Prius C supplies eventually limit the sale’s potential of Toyota’s hybrid cars? Moreover, when you factor in Prius C demand in Japan, Toyota is facing a hybrid production issue. Demand is bigger than supplies. Can Toyota ever truly resolve this problem without switching to lithium? Furthermore, I wonder just how profitable are Toyota’s hybrid cars? Is it Toyota’s long term NiMH investment that enabled Toyota’s hybrid, at least relatively, success? Would lithium squeeze too much profit margin, considering the large number of Toyota hybrids being produced — almost 20 percent of US sales — despite lithium’s long term advantages?