Sunday, July 01, 2007

Prius Ascendant

A decade ago, it wasn't hard to imagine that at some point in the future fuel prices would rise and people would want a more fuel efficient vehicles. And yet, only Honda and Toyota out of all the car companies selling in the US took this possibility seriously. Simply amazing to me the evident difference between great companies like these, able to think long-term rather than just to the next quarter, and the rest of the pack. (I love the story of the HondaJet, as another example of long-term thinking and entrepreneurial zeal within a large corporation.) The gap between Toyota and Honda and the rest of the car makers selling in the US can only continue to grow. Evidence of the rewards from JD Power (via Winding Road):

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. delivered more than 24,000 Prius hybrids in May, almost tripling year-ago deliveries. In fact, Prius sales were so strong last month that the Toyota hybrid compact car ranked as the ninth-best-selling model in the U.S. market. The Prius also seems to be attracting a wide range of vehicle trades and new buyers, according to retail transaction data collected by the Power Information Network (PIN), a division of J.D. Power and Associates. A few highlights:

• The percent of trades by owners of compact conventional car models (the segment that includes the Prius and volume sellers such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cobalt) has declined since January, which indicates that more Prius buyers are coming from other segments. In January, 31% of the trades were compact conventional models, but by early June those trades had dropped to less than 19%.

• The percentage of Prius owners trading in their hybrids for another Prius is declining as well, which suggests an increase in conquests, according to Tom Libby, PIN senior director of industry analysis. In January, 14% of the trades were Priuses but in June the percent of Prius trades for new Priuses had dropped to less than 5%.

• In addition, PIN dta indicates that conquests from non-Toyota products have risen from a little more than 68% in January to nearly 80% in early June.


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