Prius emerges as Japan’s top-selling car in 2010

Prius emerges as Japan’s top-selling car in 2010

Tokyo: Toyota’s Prius hybrid ranked as Japan’s top-selling car in 2010 with annual sales hitting an all-time high, bucking the fallout from a series of massive global recalls, an auto industry group said on Tuesday.

Toyota Motor Corp. sold a record 315,669 Prius cars in its home market 2010, up 51% from 2009, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.

The world’s No. 1 automaker has recalled more than 11 million vehicles worldwide, including the Prius, since late 2009 due to acceleration and braking problems.

But Japanese sales of the gasoline-electric hybrid Prius soared to an all-time high in 2010, helped by government subsidies and tax breaks for eco-friendly cars, the association said.

“The Prius was hugely popular among consumers. Its sales were boosted by subsidies and tax breaks for green cars," said association spokesperson Michiro Saito. Japan doled out government subsidies for eco-friendly cars like the Prius from April 2009 to September 2010.

The government will keep tax breaks aimed at boosting demand for green cars until April 2012.

Prius sales in 2010 broke Japan’s annual sales record for a single model. The previous record was 300,008 units by Toyota’s Corolla in 1990.

The Prius hybrid went on sale for the first time in 1997, beating rivals as the first mass-produced hybrid car with over two million cars sold worldwide at the end of November 2010, according to Toyota.