Prius Car Sales Affected Negatively By Lower Gas Prices, Will Popular Hybrid Meet Its End Soon?

Sep 07, 2016 04:42 AM EDT | Jomar Teves

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As fuel costs drop, so do sales of Toyota's Prius. Toyota released its most recent Prius model last December with the gas mileage of 54 miles per gallon. In spite of the amazing fuel efficiency, the Wall Street Journal reports that the car sales have decreased significantly after peaking at 1.3 million in 2013.

The car seems to be doing well in Japan, however, having sold 304,000 units of the new vehicle since its launch. Though the U.S. business sector is much bigger, only around a third of that amount has been sold there.

Prius Sales Down in U.S.A.

Prius deals in the U.S. are down around 26% this year. Brendan Harrington, president of Longo Toyota in California, told the Journal that it has nothing to do with the car itself. Longo Toyota is the country's biggest Toyota dealership, where Prius deals have dropped by 11% compared with 2015. 

"The entire market has dramatically shifted to light trucks and SUVs with gas under $3 a gallon," Harrington explained.

A Toyota representative told Fortune that Prius still leads the hybrid sector, making up around 70% of the market. For some odd reason, gas prices don't appear to have much of an impact on Prius sales in Japan as they do in the U.S.

Prius Still the King of Hybrids?

Hisashi Nakai, head of Toyota's technology communication group, says that since people drive more often in the U.S., they need bigger cars. But in Japan "hybrids will sell well regardless of the gas prices," he told the Journal. Gas prices in Japan are at present about $4.50 a gallon.

The company is doing better than some of its fellow carmakers. "We take a long-term view when it comes to product decisions," a Toyota spokesperson told Fortune. "While fuel prices are currently low, which tends to result in more truck and SUV sales, they will ebb and flow over time."

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