What makes a new car a success? Is it the awards it wins, initial sales figures, how many people order it, or the average amount of time it stays on a dealer lot before being sold?
Together, all of the above help us work out which cars are popular and which ones arenít, but according to Cars.com
), the 2012 Toyota Prius
is proving to be a runaway hit on dealer lots nationwide.
Quick to sell
Using nationwide car sales data for the months of March and April, Cars.com concluded that on average, Toyotaís plug-in hybrid
spends just five days on the dealer lot before being sold.
During March, that made the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid the second fastest selling car in the United States. During April, it came third to the recently-launched 2013 BMW X3 and 2013 BMW X5, both of which sold in an average of four days.
2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production version road test, San Diego, CA, Jan 2012
Fast-selling ≠ High sales
But before getting too excited about the speed at which the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid, we need to remember that it has only been on sale since the end of February.
From launch until the end of April, Toyota
had sold 2,552 plug-in Priuses, leading plug-in car sales during April
. Examine its sales figures in the wider automotive world however, and its sales figures arenít all that large.
To put it into perspective, Toyota only sold 1,654 plug-in Priuses in April. Ford
sold over 4.7 times that amount of 2012 Mustangs during the same period, and yet the average Mustang waits on the dealer lot for more than eleven weeks before being sold.
On sales alone, itís pretty easy to see the 2012 Ford
Mustang is more popular than the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid. It just takes longer to sell.
That last fact brings us neatly to the question of supply versus demand.
As with many new cars, initial pre-sales hype combined with pre-order waiting lists often means that demand for the car is higher than the number of cars being produced.
Even when all pre-orders have been satisfied, cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, with production numbers that can be measured in thousands and tens-of-thousands rather than millions, will still sell quickly for a few months following launch.
Look to long-term success
After a few months, it is clear that demand for the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is high, and that any cars that are delivered to dealers are snapped up quickly by customers eager to make the switch to a plug-in car.
Initial sales successes can be transient, however. In order to truly become a popular, in-demand, quickly-selling car, Toyota will have to replicate the initial sales burst for the next year or more.
Only then will we really know for sure.