Toyota Prius hybrid demand rises as gas heads toward $5/gallon

High Gear Media

As gas prices across the U.S. continue an upward march towards $5 per gallon, demand for Toyota Hybrids is now the highest it has been for nearly four years.

On Thursday last week, Toyota reported that sales of all Prius brand hybrids -- including the new 2012 Toyota Prius V wagon -- were up 52 percent in February, driven in part by the ever-increasing gas price.

In fact, as consumers look towards more fuel efficient cars of all types, sales of all Toyota cars -- including its Lexus luxury car and Scion youth-oriented brands -- rose by 12 percent last month.

As Bloomberg reports, this beats the 8.2 percent average sales increase predicted by seven analysts at the start of the year.

But with gas prices now an average of 14 percent higher than this time last year, Toyota is preparing for continued high sales volume.

In fact, demand is now so high that Toyota has more than 25,000 cars already on the way to dealers to help cope with high demand.

That’s before it even considers the impact of its two new Prius models going on sale this week -- the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and the 2012 Prius C subcompact.

But although the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid might be the car of choice for those looking for a plug-in hybrid alternative to the 2012 Chevrolet Volt, its high ticket price of $32,500-$40,000 is likely to put many buyers off.

Not so for the 2012 Prius C subcompact, which offers over 50 mpg gas mileage from just $19,900. $18,950

While that’s still more expensive than other subcompacts like the 2012 Toyota Yaris , those driving around 15,000 miles a year could stand to save more than $500 a year on fuel at current gas prices.

But while the Prius C will gain Toyota significant hybrid sales in the coming months, we still think the larger Prius V wagon -- which sold more than 8,000 cars in the first ten weeks of sale -- will continue to net Toyota high sales figures.

With the practicality of a wagon and the high fuel economy of a hybrid, we think many families will be tempted by the $27,100 Prius V’s charms when faced with $5 per gallon gas prices.

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