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Toyota shifts customer target for new Prius

Date: 23 June 2009   |   Author: Tom Webster

Toyota is targeting the driver in a bid to boost sales almost 50% for the latest generation of its Prius hybrid.

Richard Balshaw, general manager of Toyota fleet, said the brand had identified three main customers for the lower medium hybrid, and said: "We see user choosers being more interested in this market."

He said that traditionally the Prius had appealed to "fleets who want to make an environmental statement with their fleet".

The third type of customer Toyota is targeting is the manager that is attempting to lower their fleet's running costs.

Balshaw said Toyota is aiming for a "steady growth" in Prius sales. He predicted the brand would sell 5000 this year, 9000 next year, and then 12,000 vehicles in 2011. 60% of the cars will be bought with business money, or around 7200 in 2011. The current generation managed fleet sales of 5032 in 2008.

Despite the new Prius not heading to customers until August, Balshaw said Toyota has already taken "several hundred orders" for the car.

Three trim levels are available, T3, T4 and T-spirit. "Traditionally T-spirit has been most popular," said Balshaw. But with the new car he feels it will even out. "The top-end grade will take most sales, but it's likely we'll see the mid-grade take more," he said.