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Toyota stunned by strong response to Prius hybrid

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The Toyota Prius hybrid, the world’s largest selling one, has caught the imagination of environment-friendly and deep- pocketed Indians in just three months of its debut on Indian roads.

Priced at Rs 26.5 lakh and Rs 27.86 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the sales have gone well beyond the company’s expectations in India. Toyota Kirloskar Motors has received bookings for 80 cars; it has delivered 45 units since its launch in March. This is far more than the average monthly sales of 12 units estimated by Toyota when it had introduced the vehicle in India.

Globally, Toyota Motor Corporation has sold nearly two million units of the Prius since 1997.

The Prius hybrid in India has a waiting list of two months. The company says the vehicle is being sought by doctors, industrialists and top executives aged between 35 and 50 years.

“Prius hybrid is an internationally acclaimed vehicle and its global image has helped to boost demand for the vehicle in India, where the well travelled, technology enthusiasts and environment-conscious people are now willing to shell out that extra for a vehicle which is not just environment-friendly but also helps them to create a statement,” said Sandeep Singh, deputy managing director, Toyota Kirloskar.

This signals a shift in Indian mindsets. The Civic hybrid, launched two years earlier, failed to generate expected response and the company had to withdraw it from the market in just six months. While initial sales of the Civic hybrid, originally priced at Rs 21.5 lakh in India, was a mere 60 units in six months, Honda Siel Cars India managed to sell 300 units in all, after it had slashed prices by Rs 8 lakh.

According to Abdul Majeed, national head (automotive practice), PricewaterhouseCoopers, the idea of ‘green’ and environment-friendly vehicles is slowly picking up in India, more so among the next generation.

“Further, with stricter regulations, these new technologies and battery-driven cars will be the order of the day and car manufacturers like Toyota are trying to create visibility for such products in India with their Prius,” he added.