Jon F. Thompson, Toyota Corporate Communications, made a clarification at the official Toyota blog on a much quoted headline saying they would not sell more Prius this year than they did last year. Thompson wants us to know that is not correct. They can and will build (and hopefully sell) more Prius this year than they did last year. It's the percentage of growth they can't sustain.
Specifically, in 2007, the built and sold 67% more Prius than they did in 2006. That type of growth will not occur again. Although they expect some growth, it just won't be anywhere as large.
"Our volume on Prius was up 67% last year. That was a supply-restricted 67% increase. That's 181,000 cars. We can't repeat that, no way, even though the demand may be there. We just can't keep up. So you will see much more moderate growth because of the supply."What happened was simple. Toyota separated their Camry Hybrid production from the Prius production, allowing them to max out their production of the Prius. That occurred early on in 2007. But since then, both production and sales have stayed practically maxed out. The Toyota Prius just doesn't sit on the lot for very long.
So, for most of 2008, they won't be able to build many more Prius than they did in 2007. Which means their growth has been capped.
So, we'll see more than 181,000 Prius built and sold this year. At the end of February, sales were up 8.5% for the year. In my opinion, that's more than twice as high than total cumulative sales growth will end at.