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Prius Continues to Dominate New Vehicle Sales in Japan

Toyota’s Prius continued its run as the top-selling new car in Japan in September, posting 31,758 units, representing an increase of 341% from September 2008. This marked the Prius’ fifth consecutive month as the number one selling new automobile in Japan, according to data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association (JADA).

Monthly Prius sales in Japan. Data: JADA. Click to enlarge.

Prius accounted for 10.8% of total automobile sales for the month. Although September Prius sales results were sharply higher than August sales of 21,669, its monthly new vehicle market share dropped (from 12.1% in August), due to a 64% increase in total automobile sales from August to September.

For September 2009, Honda’s Fit came in second, with 17,241 units, followed by the Toyota Vitz at 12,731 units. Honda’s Insight hybrid was fifth, with 10,289 units sold.



One single Hybrid (Prius III) taking almost 11% of the Japanese market, that's much more than the 2% that many of us claimed to be the limit for HEVs. It shows that people will buy vehicles with 50+ mpg when the price is right.

PHEVs with over 200 mpg should do even much better if the price is reduced to an affordable level.


I'm not sure that PHEV's will do very well in high density areas in Japan or tUSA, at least at first.

The problem: many of us don't park our car inside our home (garage). We have a nearby parking garage, park on the street, or park in an alley. None of those are particularly good choices for plug in, for a variety of reasons.

S'OK. Like addressing climate change in general, there won't be a single solution. For some, HEV. For others, PHEV, for others still mass transit, bike, and/or bus.


This is ridiculous. Doesn't anybody else in Japan make a fuel efficient car? Although not quite as dominant in the US as in Japan, the Prius is easily the most fuel efficient car in the US and one of the top sellers. Personally, I find this quite irritating when there are probably 50 or even more models of cars in Europe that have similarly low fuel consumption. Consequently, none of those cars dominates the market like the Prius does in Japan or US. I'd like a little choice when buying a fuel efficient car. Right now in the US, we have the choice of buying two almost identical looking cars, one with an "H" on its grille and the other with some logo made up by some marketing types. Boring! Ok, there are a few other choices, notably the VW Diesels, but that still leaves us with remarkably few fuel efficient cars.


f there are 1 million hybrids on the road out of more than 100 million cars and they get 40% better mileage and 1/2 of the oil goes to cars, we might reduce oil imports 1/4%.

Since we increase oil consumption about 1% per year, this will slow the increase a bit, but that is about it. It would take 1 million hybrids sold every year to slow the growth just a bit. This will do the consumer good with lower fuel bills and clean up the air, but not significantly lower our imported oil.

DME for trucks and buses along with 50 million FFVs running cellulose E85 will do more to lower imported oil numbers. We have to stay focused on reducing imported oil. Hybrids are fine, but really reducing imported oil will take much more. Even PHEVs will help, but not all that much. It is helping the individual and the community, but not that much to help the country.



Something like replacing 10 000+ Jets with Ultra High Speed e-trains would help.

Hauling some 1 000 000+ (53 ft.) trailers by e-trains would also help.

Electrifying another 5 000 000+ delivery trucks and end of lines trailer-tractors would also help.

Electrifying 100 000 000+ cars-SUV-pick-ups would certainly help.

Electrifying 1 000 000+ pleasure boats would help.

Electrifying (cord or cordless) all lawn mowers would help too.

Electrifying most farm tractors and recharge with local wond turbine etc.

Replacing all oil fired domestics and commercial furnaces with e-HVAC.

There are certainly 100+ other applications to be done.

Challenging decades ahead.


Oh yeah, there are lots of things we COULD do, but will we? We are mostly likely to do the easy things first. The items that make the most improvement for the least cost.

I like HEVs and PHEVs, all I am saying is let us get realistic on what they will do versus what they will cost. Cutting the increase in oil usage in half is no small feat, but that means in 10 years we will be importing 14.5 million barrels instead of 15 million barrels per day if we sell 1 million hybrids every year for the next 10 years.



I basically agree with you but your scenario is too slow. For USA to reduce oil import by 1/2 million barrel/day by 2020 is not enough. The financial burden will be too heavy and may interfere with the economic recovery program.

The problem has to be attacked in many ways at the same time. Vehicle electrification is just one way and may not be enough. The armed forces, commercial airlines, trains, industries, shipping, trucking, farming, etc have to contribute by reducing their fossil liquid fuel consumption too.

We used to burn more fuel to heat our poorly insulated houses than to run our cars. When heating oil was $0.09 gallon, nobody cared. In the last 35 years (since 1974, our domestic and commercial HVAC were almost fully electrified. Half the oil refineries were closed due to lower demands. With electrified vehicles we plan to close another half by 2020. Our GHG is currently 12 tonnes per capita and should go down to about 8 tonnes per capita within 20 years. Unfortunately, Alberta's may go up from 75 to close to 150 tonnes per capita in the same time frame unless USA and the rest of Canada reduce consumption of tar sands oil products.

It is a somewhat like a program to improve general health. Concentrating on one desease would not work even if the informed majority would start with obeseity, the source of many other deseases.


probably 50 or even more models of cars in Europe that have similarly low fuel consumption

No peter, there are not. And if they do, you get a very tiny car, something like a Daihatsu Charade or Suzuki Swift.

I am not counting the diesels that apparently get a fuel consumption as low as the Prius, if you forget about the higher energy density of diesel (+12%) and higher overall CO2 emissions per litre (+17%).

Fred H

Hi Peter,
There are several good reasons why the Prius is more popular than other cars with similar mileage in Japan.

Japanese like automatic transmissions. The Prius has one of the smoothest automatic transmissions in the world, comparable to many luxury cars.

Japanese prefer gasoline engines. Although the most modern diesel cars are nearly as quiet and clean as gasoline cars, the Prius is still quieter during idle and cruise.

Many Japanese are technology enthusiasts, and are eager to try out the latest. The Prius has a fairly high level of technical features for its class.

Japan has stringent emissions laws and generous subsidies for low emissions vehicles. The Prius has lower emissions than most other similar cars.


There are few cars that have CO2 levels as low is the new Prius in Europe, but there are lots of cars that are < 130 / 140 gms / km.
Some are diesel, some are petrol (the larger ones are diesel).
Diesel has 50% of the car market in Europe and hence the continent wide fuel usage is a lot less per km traveled than the US.
All new cars in Europe are rapidly becoming more fuel efficient mainly due to partial electrification of non drive functionality (pumps, A/C etc) and stop start.
This is driven by the EU's fleetwide CO2 mandate of < 130 gms/km, rather than fuel prices which have come down since last year.

At present, hybrids are very expensive in Europe and most people get better value using diesel.

The problem is that diesel generates more local pollution than gasoline hybrids, especially in cities - but if all you care about (as many greens do) is CO2, 50% diesel is better than the 16 % (or so) hybrid in Japan, and much better than the 2-3% hybrid in the US.

My personal view is that measuring CO2 only is wrong, and a pollution metric should include NOx and particulates as well - the problem is getting a formula that is easy to understand + measure, and then use taxation to optimise that, rather than just CO2.


Would a comfortable Prius III, with a 1.0 L high efficiency turbo-diesel, sell in Europe? It could probably get close to 70 mpg, if not better.

Fred H

Hi HarveyD,
Yes, I think so. However, it would require a considerable investment in the development of a suitable diesel engine to get 70 mpg and still meet the future emissions standards.

The difference in efficiency between the specially tuned for hybrid Atkinson gasoline engine and current diesels is not that great. In order to get 70 mpg, the diesel engine would have to be specially tuned to take advantage of the potential of the hybrid drive system.

A hybrid drive system has the potential to greatly reduce the raw emissions of diesel engines by avoiding the problematic rpm and load conditions and transitions. But to meet ever stricter requirements, costly emissions reduction systems will still be necessary.

In my estimation, a hybrid diesel Prius would be more costly than the hybrid gasoline Prius, thus making it attractive mainly for high mileage (distance) drivers.


My personal view is that measuring CO2 only is wrong, and a pollution metric should include NOx and particulates as well

mahonj, I don't understand you complaint. The other pollutants ARE being measured and regulated. The regulation of these other pollutants is however done differently: not through taxation, but by setting ever stricter limits to which vehicles have to comply.


"but your scenario is too slow"

That is not MY scenario, but one of several potential high probability scenarios. Your response seems to imply that is ALL I am advocating. People that have seen my posts on here know that I advocate much more.

We should go through the analysis for every proposal and measure how much it reduces oil imports and how much it costs. Then we will have a cost benefit picture for each proposal. Just saying we "could" or "should" does not present the information that we need.

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