The world’s largest selling hybrid car Toyota Prius has hit the ground running in India with demand expected to far out strip the company’s initial target to sell 200 units this year. So far the company has received 80 confirmed bookings for the car and the first lot of 24 cars were delivered to customers last week.
The demand is despite a bad precedent in Honda Civic hybird, the country’s first such car, which had to be discontinued due to lack of demand. Further reports of recall of the Prius in US, which has caused much embrassment to Toyota Motor Corp, also cast a shadow on its future in India. None of these seems to have had any impact so far.
“We are happy with the demand for the car and believe that once the cars hit the road demand will go up further,” said Sandeep Singh, deputy managing director (sales), Toyota Kirloskar Motor. “Bookings are robust and should go beyond the 200 cars that we have asked for from TMC, though we are not likely to get any more cars this year. Next year we will deifinitely order more cars... maybe 400 or 500.”
Most of the cars sold so far are to entrepreuners and industrialists — a departure from the US, the biggest market for Prius, where the car is a favourite with Hollywood stars.
Toyota believes Bollywood will come calling soon.
“The Prius is a car which is bought by customers to make a statement, either to stand out of the crowd or to project themselves as environmentally-conscious,” Singh said. “Once the car is freely available at dealerships and for test drives, Bollywood stars will be customers.”
Customers confirm Singh’s take on the car.
“This is an entirely new concept and since my office is close to my house, I can drive down with minimal petrol consumption,” said Linu Thomas, 34, an entrepreuner based in Goa who has bought a Prius.
She has four cars in her household and had her first encounter with the Prius in Singapore.
Till date over 1.5 million units of the Prius have been sold worldwide, making it by far the most successful hybrid vehicle in the world.