Toyota Prius may have been the first electrified vehicle to become a smashing success in the automobile market, but it merely paved the way for other automakers to introduce their own hybrid and electric vehicles.
Electrified vehicles are by no means relegated to the class of hypermilers and minicars of yesteryear, which sacrificed weight, safety features, and engine power in order to realize higher fuel economy ratings. According to some, even Toyota Prius started out underpowered and lacking in the fun-to-drive department. Today’s range of electrified vehicles doesn’t suffer from that image anymore, and the sales numbers prove that they are gaining popularity.
So far, for the year 2013, newcomers Ford C-Max and Fusion Hybrid have begun to chip into the market, the Fusion Hybrid, for example, selling shy of 20,300 units, a 306% increase over 2012. The Fusion Energi PHEV has sold nearly 1,600 units this year, and the Focus EV, 900 units, showed a 827% increase over last year. Consumers don’t appear to be particularly concerned over the EPA-MPG snafu of recent months. With so many electrified vehicles on the market, consumers have more choices than ever before, which has even led to some price adjustments to boost sales and adoption.
Still, in spite of a menagerie of hybrid electric vehicles to compete against, Toyota Prius is king of the hill, despite showing an 8% drop in sales. Other automakers may be horning in on Prius’ action, but Prius is mostly just competing against itself these days, with three other Prius models, as well as a number of other hybrids in the joint Toyota / Lexus lineup. Mention hybrid, and most people will automatically associate it with “Toyota” and “Prius,” so perhaps Toyota will hold on to its top sales spot a little while longer. If Toyota can continue to innovate and keep quality and reliability, it’ll be hard, even for “cooler” electrified vehicles, to knock Toyota Prius off the top.