September 25, 2003

Demand for new Prius strong in U.S.A and Japan

Torrance, California – Toyota dealers in the U.S. are experiencing an overwhelming response to the all-new 2004 second-generation Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid vehicle. Even though the new Prius does not launch in the U.S. until October 17th, nearly 10,000 orders have already been taken for the popular hybrid.

“We knew interest in the new Prius would be strong,” said Don Esmond, Toyota Motor Sales senior vice president and general manager. “However, with the incredible demand we are experiencing, we may need to request additional production from our Tsutsumi plant in Toyota City, Japan.”

The current production plan of 36,000 vehicles for 2004 calendar year is up from a high of 21,000 units in 2002.

Toyota dealers have received more than 3,000 pre-orders. Additionally, an estimated 4,000 advance orders have been received for public and private fleets, and more than 1,200 orders for TRAC, Toyota’s rental car operation. More than 1,200 additional orders have been received from a special “Prius Pioneers” early-buyer internet program.

When the first-generation Prius was launched in the summer of 2000, sales transactions were initiated by early-buyers on the internet. The process culminated with vehicle delivery at a Toyota dealership of the buyer’s choice. Toyota refers to these initial owners as “Prius Pioneers” for their leap-of-faith in an all-new, but promising technology.

To recognize these owners for their loyalty a one-time Prius early-buyer program ran from June 30th to July 20th. Nearly 18,000 “Prius Pioneers” were identified and notified via the internet. These “Prius Pioneers” were given the opportunity to order their new Prius online. These vehicles will be the first delivered at Toyota dealerships when the Prius officially goes on sale, nationwide.

The strong demand for the new Prius has not been limited to the U.S., as dealers in Japan have taken 11,000 Prius orders in its first two weeks on the market, quadrupling what was expected and far exceeding production capacity.

The Prius (the name comes from the Latin “to go before”) was the world’s first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid vehicle when introduced in 1997 (2000 in the U.S. market). It has since become the best-selling hybrid vehicle in the world.

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