Building on the success of its hybrid Prius brand, Toyota has recently launched the Prius Alpha in Japan. The Japanese model is a minivan with the Prius family styling, but as a 5-seater with two rows of seats, or three rows of seats making it a 7-seater. The same model will be launched at the Prius V in in the US and Prius Plus in Europe with two rows of seats.
Toyota was expecting to have orders for about 3000 units per month, but after opening its order books for the first month (April), Toyota now reports that it has received orders for 25,000 units -- over 8 times as many as expected. Toyota is expecting to sell 2000 units per month in the US and 2000 in Europe -- but given the huge demand in Japan, it would not be surprising to see these numbers eclipsed many times over.
To put these numbers in perspective, the number 1 best-selling car in Japan in April was the Honda Fit, which (in regular ICE and hybrid form) sold just 8,574 units in that period. March had much better sales numbers, but even then the best-selling car (the Fit, once again) only sold 22,284 units.
This is a testament to the power of the Prius brand, as there are other hybrid minivan options in Japan (such as the Estima hybrid) already in the marketplace. It will be interesting to see how much this new model draws sales away from the standard Prius, as well as models such as the Estima hybrid previously mentioned, and how much it brings drivers into the hybrid fold.
The only fly in the ointment with this one is that with the effects of the earthquake continuing to be felt into the fall, Toyota is going to be hard-pressed to keep up with this level of demand. In fact, the TBS news report below states that some new owners will need to wait until next April to receive their cars!