Sunday, January 13, 2008

Toyota Prius Sales Top Ford Explorer Sales

Financial Times: Toyota Prius sales pass Ford Explorer
The icon of America's SUV passion falls victim to stubbornly high gas prices and an increasingly stringent regulatory climate

Americans bought more Toyota Prius hybrid gas-electric hatchbacks last year than Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicles, the top-selling SUV for more than a decade.


While Prius sales soared 69% last year, demand for the Explorer was less than a third of its 2000 peak.


The Explorer led the SUV charge in the 1990s to replace the minivan as the family car. Baby boomers craving space, a protective cocoon high above the ground and the power of a V-8 engine have driven about 6 million Explorers out of showrooms over the past 18 years. But filling an Explorer fuel tank now costs $70 or more, up from $30 five years ago. The traditional SUV "is a dead market," Magliano says.

It costs about $30 to fill the tank of the Prius at $3 a gallon, if the tank is completely empty.

Coach Mom drives an Explorer and can't wait to get rid of it. The car, only two years old, is already on the Consumer Reports list of cars not to buy used.

The Prius is not without its problems -- the terrible handling on snow and ice, poor sight lines -- but the gas efficiency can't be beat. And for a small car it's quite comfortable.

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