Toyota Prius Prime Shines In Japan Again – 2,781 Sold In March

MAY 1 2017 BY MARK KANE 47

Toyota Prius Prime

The Toyota Prius PHV (Prime) put all other plug-ins on notice in Japan in March – noting 2,781 sales, and 6,011 cumulatively after its two first months on the market. That’s more than all Nissan and Mitsubishi plug-ins combined.

The New Toyota Prius Plug-in aka Prius Prime

…and at least now we know why the Prime’s inventory in the US has yet to reach 4 digits. Why ship away what you can sell at home?

Thanks to Toyota, Japan has returned to historically high plug-in car sales, exceeding the 5,000 sold mark for the second month in a row.

With March’s 2,781 sales, the plug-in Prius is not only above its target of 2,500 a month, but also on track to perhaps be the top selling model worldwide, at least once production catches up to demand; a number we have yet to be able to peg from the data, as every plug-in Prius built is sold almost immediately.

If the trend continues, the Nissan LEAF will need to settle for second place on the global market.

Domestically, the LEAF had 1,571 sales in March (down 3% year-over-year), which is also not a bad result for the outgoing generation.  Depending on when the second generation LEAF arrives (officially planned to start deliveries in Q4), it could be a high volume dog-fight for the world’s best selling plug-in come December.

Separately, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV finally return some satisfactory results, noting 846 registrations in March, the best since March 2016 (955).

Nissan LEAF sales in Japan – March 2017

source: EV Sales blog

Categories: Nissan, Sales, Toyota

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47 Comments on "Toyota Prius Prime Shines In Japan Again – 2,781 Sold In March"

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I guess I was wrong. Prius Prime sales issues were mostly due to supply I guess. Congrats to Toyota.

On other news, I believe that the Volt is actually mainstream around where live now. TV ads from Chevy dealers which only mention their top cars mention it. On a list of 4, it’s on the list. I see TV ads from dealers that mention it, hear radio ads, etc. And I see them everywhere now. I see so many which don’t even have plates yet (which means they are under 6 weeks old) all around. Congratulations to GM, I wonder if they can convert this adoption into adoption of their other cars.

Are we even allowed to say something like that about dealers around here? You said they were running Volt multiple volt ads and that they actually sell them to people.

You didn’t even call them stealerships!

It is all conspiracy by Big Oil in bed with legacy automakers and stealerships! They don’t want to sell electrics as it undermines their huge profits of changing oil for $40 once a year! And Volt has engine!!! They just want to distract people from one and the only one true car with the only true badge, designed by the only true Leader who is going to save the world!

That is one ridiculous looking vehicle. Volt so much better.

You’ve got to hand it to anyone who buys one.
You’ve got to be an Eco-WARRIOR to put up with the looks.

Funny, their initial show car model looked Much Better and far more aerodynamic.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Nope, not for me. This beholden eye sees fugly in this car.

I think we all believe the Prius Prime could be the breakout plug-in as it rides the long Prius legacy, but I also wonder if it is responsible for some of the spike we are seeing in Volt sales. Many of us think that buyers coming in looking for a Bolt EV, might decide the cheaper (esp. with better “deals”) and more long range flexible Volt is a better choice for them. However, it could be that Prius buyers looking for their next Prius are seeing the Prime and then doing some research on plug-ins in general…this could lead them to articles like this one in Car and Driver comparing the two: And comments like this might make a Prime buyer at least think twice about one: “Let’s get something out of the way right up front: The Prius Prime is unattractive. How something so graceless, gawky, and odd emerged from a company as conservative as Toyota is shocking. Its design is so off-putting, it’s almost an anti-car statement.” and “The handling is ­minivan-like: soft, safe, and dull. On broken pavement, the suspension sends shudders into the structure that sound like a street performer drumming on a plastic bucket.… Read more »

I think the Volt comment is interesting. My feeling is that the thing that has been holding the volt back is, as it always has been, GM. They never really wanted to be leaders in this space and were kind of pushed into the Volt after the bailout, it was one of the Obamacars.

I think the spike in sales of the volt are purely driven by increased competition. Although GM, IMO, never really wanted to lead they certainly don’t want to lag, hence production is up, advertising is up and there are deals on the table.

GM are a funny company, I don’t really understand their logic – I don’t think the Bolt would ever have happened if Tesla weren’t just about to release the model 3. It seems as if they are only interested in going strongly into a market if their is competition which seems a bit drunken to me.

Pushed into the Volt after the bailout? That timeline is wrong. The Volt was green lighted before the bailout for production by Lutz. If anything, many were concerned the bailout would result in the Volt’s death, but they stuck with all their schedule deadlines to bring it to production, while many other projects went out to pasture.

“hey never really wanted to be leaders in this space and were kind of pushed into the Volt after the bailout, it was one of the Obamacars.”

What a load of BS that gets repeated over and over again.

Volt started before the bailout and Obama’s bailout group controlling GM at the time wanted to kill the Volt because it won’t make GM money soon enough (SUV/Trucks will). GM insisted on keeping the Volt program for its future.

In addition, GM wanted to sell 45K/year since the beginning but Fox News and GOP party used it as a political football to attack Obama during the 2012 election year which resulted in excessively unfair and negative coverage. The sales never met the GM’s openly stated 45K/year sales goal.

I really don’t understand GM or their behaviour but my honest opinion is that the volt was supposed to be a compliance car. In order to survive after the crash they needed a good news story IMO that was the volt.

It takes 5 years to develop a car minimum so you are correct the volt was already developed before the bailout and was heading for production but without the bailout my belief is it would have been sold in numbers similar to in the EU. I like the volt and think it is a great car but I think it was more of an unexpected pregnancy rather than a love child.

Again, go back and do some more research here. GM was super transparent with its development which was unprecedented at the time, showing things that you never get to see with typical car development. They also were very open with their sales expectations.

The Volt was on track to be quite the success until a trifecta of bad press early on, e.g. the bailout, being a car Obama liked, and lastly, a single battery fire that occurred two weeks after a crash test when the car was left in a parking lot and not properly discharged (somewhat akin to a leaking gas tank for 2 weeks, waiting for a match).

Now that the Volt has never caught fire in passenger hands, and the Gen 1 has never had any passenger deaths, combined with how well its battery performance has been compared to nearly every other EV, it’s starting to recover from being a political football.

Anyone who sees the Volt for what it is realizes how great of a car it is.

>> Anyone who sees the Volt for what it is realizes how great of a car it is.

So what if Volt goes faster & further.

That’s too expensive to sell in large numbers even with the generous $7,500 tax-credit. Prius Prime starts at $27,100 MSRP and is loaded with safety features (Dynamic Radar Cruise, Pre-Collision Baking, Lane-Departure Detect with Assist, Automatic High-Beams).

Toyota clearly positioned Prius Prime to compete directly with the actual competition, traditional vehicles.

Toyota positioned it to take advantage of uninformed people who buy without doing any research. They hear the Prius name and assume it must be the best.

To be fair this all happened right around the time Obama’s pet project, Solyndra, went bankrupt. And the Volt at that time was a money pit. Ammunition is ammunition. We shouldn’t have bailed them out in the first place. But that is a conversation for another day.
None of the above should be considered one of our finer moments. In any context.

GM management driven by some Tesla Envy?

GM, hopefully, now will address the 2017 Volt reliability issues Consumer Reports is seeing.

They will just send out a half baked ota.

Bolt was in plans many years ago, in 2009-2012, at the times when GM hoped that Envia will actually produce some better and cheaper batteries to make it possible.

Doubtful…Multiple reports show that even old folks start their auto search and get pricing knowledge online…

The new Volt is one heck of a value frankly. If you could put a Toyota badge on it and sell it at a Toyota dealer, they’d sell 15,000 per month.


In the USA, the sales numbers don’t indicate that the Prime is conquering, and instead suggest it’s cannibalizing Prius sales. So it might be that the Prime won’t grow the market generally.

>> the sales numbers don’t indicate

There is no data available to draw any conclusions with yet.

Midwest deliveries only just began in April and those were all pre-orders. Elsewhere, supply is very limited.

These sales numbers are dismal. Compare it to SUV or Truck sales and I don’t know why EV’s are being built. Everyone cares about saving the planet until they go car shopping.

Judging by your comment you don’t drive an ev. Forget about about green and stuff just put the numbers together. My effective cost of driving a new eGolf is $50/month for the next 3 years. Can you beat that with an ICE?
Most people driving ev’s are simply smart not necessarily tree huggers. I have a neighbor that has 2 Fiat 500E and a roof full of panels…do you want to guess how much he is saving each month?

Both E-Golf and Fiat500e are basically compliance cars that those two companies are “giving out for free” so they can meet the ZEV requirement.

That type of “sales” can’t be sustained over the course of years.

So you don’t want a free car….i got it! Do you not understand that not everyone cares about ev progress or environment? Cost should be the sales pitch now to sell ev’s like the ones mentioned by you not tree humping, this is what works to attract people from the other side.

Don’t forget these cars are expensive.
A Fully loaded Volt can go for at least $41,000.

Then you have to either lease to capture the tax credit, or fill out the long form. That puts people off.

How is a lease putting people off? Did you see the lease numbers for ICE the past 3 years? We are in a lease bubble. To take advantage of the credits is extremely easy in California…and i’m guessing in other stated is the same. To apply for the Cali rebate online takes 5 minutes. People always look for excuses not to do the right things financially…it always amazes me! These compliance 100 mile cars with white stickers are an incredible deal as a second car in any Cali household.

The trend is your friend.

Because of battery cost and manufacturing capacity, it was not possible to make EVs in large quantities from the get go, even without accounting for resistance by dealers. Trucks an SUVs are not a new technology.

This is a new technology and it needs time to ramp. What matters is the trend, and the trend is favorable.

It’s great to see the Prime coming out of Japan, the Zoe out of the EU and the Model 3 in the USA. These are serious multi-thousand unit sales per month vehicles – which is amazing. It is all very encouraging hopefully we will start to see some serious growth in this area. Hopefully we’ll also see more serious offerings coming out in the near future.

While the Prime might not be the prettiest girl in the fleet, when she sucks gas, she doesn’t swallow as much as other PHEV players!

In EV mode, she might not be a Looker, but she seems to Get the Job Done, for certain buyers!


You are working hard to make excuses for the Prime.

Sounds like a “Prius pimp” to me…

If that 25 miles of electric range is real, it could be good enough for many people.

Just don’t know.

>> If that 25 miles of electric range is real

28 miles is what I’ve been seeing with the temperature just above freezing.

The PP will be a great gateway drug to get more people hooked on driving electric. I love my Volt, but driving it makes me want even more AER. It will only be a matter of time until Toyota drivers are demanding Toyota build a 200 mile EV.

remember – Toyota did build a 100+ mile EV – we own a RAV4 EV and hope that Toyota has learned and listened to its owners – great car needs great range – they will get there…it is one of 3 EVs in our garage – and would have bought another Toyota if there had been one on the market…

Prius has good credibility now, lots of people recognise the brand and would be changing cars, so it makes sense the Prius is doing well. Anyone with a Prius already knows how good the very limited electric drive is, so the Prime gives them more of that in the package they are comfortable with. Volt is the same, it has a reputation, people are starting to understand the benefits and making that choice. Leaf appears to be the same, even though it is a pretty old model run with limited EV range, I imagine all those Leaf advocates telling their family and friends how good it is, how little they pay to run it, and more people are investing in it. Tesla has a lot of interest, apart from the reservation holders there is a huge interest from people who are wowed by the tech and hype, so Model 3 should do well. Bolt is an unknown to the market. GM appears to have a poor reputation anyway, so people are cautious, how will it go, is it right for me, do I need all that range? As people tell their stories you should see Bolt improve. Probably some are… Read more »

The current Prius may have finally pried the ugly trophy from the dead fingers of the Pontiac Aztec and the Prime only tones things down a bit. But, assuming the Prime inherits the Prius durability/reliability genes I think it will help convince people plug in cars can be as reliable and durable as their ICE equivalents. This can only help EV adoption in my opinion.

I find it amazing how so many people prefer plain, that anything which stands out is given some level of “ugly” factor… until it’s been out for awhile. Then, attitudes change. Each Prius generation has seen that. Know your audience. Those buyers don’t want ordinary.

60 MPG following depletion of the battery will help draw interest after awhile too. Seeing that on the few long trips I’ve taken so far is another great selling point.

Lastly, there is a charge-mode available… which has proven useful on the long trip where I didn’t have an opportunity to plug in. It took me 38 minutes to go from 0 to 80% charge. That was 40 miles of highway travel at 66 mph. The tradeoff was 37.8 MPG while that surprisingly aggressive recharge was taking place. In other words, using that EV wisely afterward will yield an overall benefit.

Using the engine to charge the battery is never a benefit unless the charge is absolutely needed for a specific reason (ie climbing a very steep grade).

Keep in mind when you do this that multiple energy conversions are taking place, each causing some loss:
Chemical (gasoline) to Mechanical, Mechanical to Electrical,
Electrical to Chemical (battery).

Then the conversions reverse to get the energy back from the battery to the wheels.

Much more efficient to just do direct conversion of Chemical (gasoline) to mechanical.

>> Using the engine to charge the battery is never a benefit unless the charge is absolutely needed for a specific reason (ie climbing a very steep grade).

That misconception was proven false way back in 1997 by the first Prius. Hybrids have been doing it ever since, showing undeniable benefit. Yet, 20 years later, some still believe that’s not the case.


Ugh for sure. Have you ever taken a Physics or Chemistry class?

Charging the battery by using kinetic energy from a moving vehicle (braking regen) does make sense. That’s what a Prius and every standard Hybrid does. But, using the engine to directly charge the battery is inefficient due to the multiple energy conversions required.

Your not being able to understand these basics helps to explain why you chose to buy a PP instead of the far superior Volt.

I suggest watching a video on how the hybrid system in Prius actually operates.

That overly simplistic impression is giving a false understanding of what actually happens.

Again, being able to go faster & further does not make a vehicle superior. Mainstream consumers have higher purchase priorities.

I give up. It’s like arguing with someone who thinks an EV can be kept charged by a wind turbine attached to the roof while driving. There are no free energy conversions or perpetual motion machines.

The situation is a matter of using energy more efficiency. No part of that is “free”.

Nothing is 100% efficient. In fact, there are EV guzzlers. Some are far better at conversion & transfer than others. Using more electricity to travel the same distance is a problem too.

Just like with hybrids, it’s a matter of seeking out efficiency opportunities. Used wisely, there can be a gain… put another way, a prevention of greater losses… which is exactly what charge-mode can offer, used wisely.

The gas engine can be taken advantage of to control overall energy usage in favor of a better return by reducing waste.

You’re right. I get a chuckle when people think that they’ve found an obvious flaw that somehow escaped hundreds of engineers involved in the design of the car.

I own a pp ..great car. The 25+ ev range is real and also the ice 58 gpm.
Honestly my only gripes are the back side visibility due to the big pillars and the lack of back wiper. Yes, it is a slow but pretty perky car that delivers what promises.
For me, the magic number will be a PEVH with 75 EV range with an ICE of 50-60 mpg