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Monday, June 7, 2010

Toyota Prius top-selling car in Japan for 12th straight month

Toyota's Prius hybrid model was the top-selling car in Japan during May for the twelfth consecutive month, according to joint data released by the Japan Automobile Dealers Association (JADA) and the Japan Mini Vehicles Association.

Industry data show that Toyota sold 27,208 Prius cars last month. Suzuki's Wagon R mini-vehicle retained its second-spot during the month with sales of 14,475 units, while, Daihatsu's Tanto mini-vehicle finished third with sales of 13,518 units.

Prius customers in Japan still have to wait about six months to receive delivery of the model.

In a statement issued today, the automotive analysts at IHS Global Insight noted that Toyota has been witnessing stronger-than-expected demand for its Prius hybrid despite concerns over the quality of its vehicles following a series of high-profile global recalls. They included a recall of almost 200,000 units of the Prius itself in the domestic market.

The analysts attribute the vehicle's popularity in Japan to the ongoing local government's support measures in the form of an "eco-car" scrappage scheme as well as acquisition-tax and tonnage-tax exemptions for "eco-cars" for three years starting from April 1, 2009.

However, Toshiki Miyake, a senior official at JADA, recently said that, "the effects of the recall problem, if any, might show up in future sales."

Meanwhile, in response to the stronger demand for hybrid vehicles, Toyota is now looking to launch a compact hybrid based on its Vitz/Yaris model and a new Prius minivan hybrid in the Japanese market next year.

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