Toyota Reminds Ford: The Prius Is Still Hybrid King

Toyota, perhaps tired of Ford saying it is slowly gaining marketshare on its hybrids, announced the other day how well its green vehicle offerings are doing in the nation’s largest market for such cars. It serves as a reminder to the American automaker and others that they still have a lot of catching up to do.

The company’s hybrids, it said, make up approximately six out of 10 such vehicles sold in California. According to data from R.L. Polk capturing registration year-to-date through May, Californians as well bought five times more Toyota hybrids than its nearest competitor, Ford. General Motor’s Chevrolet brand came in third with six percent.

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid (image copyright EarthTechling)

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid (image copyright EarthTechling)

And, in a direct message to Ford, Toyota noted specifically that through May, according to registration data, Californians bought more Toyota hybrids than Ford sold passenger cars within its entire line-up.

The Japanese automaker has a long history in the hybrid space, which gives it reason to claim its position as the global leader. It introduced the first generation Prius in 2000, expanding the number of Prius offerings to four last year. This car in particular is the workhorse of the hybrids Toyota has, not only being the number one selling car in California last year, but selling in total over the last decade in the United States nearly 1.5 million vehicles. It is said more than 90 percent are still on the road today.

Since introducing the Prius to the U.S. market, Toyota said, it has produced a total of six other hybrid models for the region, including Camry, Highlander and Avalon.  It  also offers customers a Prius Plug-In hybrid in 15 states, and features six hybrids in its Lexus line-up, Toyota’s luxury division.  Worldwide, Toyota has 18 hybrid vehicles spanning more than 30 markets.

In terms of impacts on the environment, the sale of 5.3 million hybrids globally, and over 2 million in the U.S., “have resulted in approximately 34 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions than those emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles, and have saved their owners more than 3 billion gallons of gasoline.”

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.

    • davidhollenshead

      The Prius is still king because the people buying it don’t know that:
      Much of Japan’s industrial waste is still being dumped in the Ocean, mostly off of the east coast of Africa,
      It can cost $1300 a year to service the headlights in damp climates,
      The traction control system can get confused and cut power when you are accelerating on dry pavement,

      The storage capacity of it’s batteries drops significantly in a few years so that it rarely moves without starting it’s engine,
      And lastly, that owning a Prius puts you in the crowd of obnoxious people that can’t resist telling other motorists off for driving a non-hybrid.

      • Robert Howd

        Wow – such a wealth of misinformation in a single post!

        After 12 years and about 300,000 miles driving Prii, I’m happy to report that these cars are excellent to drive, with fewer problems than most other cars on the road.

        • davidhollenshead

          And a friend of mine has had the opposite experience as you, including being re-ended due to the traction control bug. The truth is the Prius is over rated, expensive to service, and on Oregon gas, 10% alcohol, gets 30-35 mpg. Worse than the base model.

          I have no doubt that you have had a decent experience, judging from your post, but you are one owner. I have a 78 Ford that went over 500,000 miles before needing major engine work

          and an 84 Audi that has over 300,000 miles on it and refuses to die. This does not mean that all Ford’s or Audi’s are good cars.

          Out of the countless Prius, I see driving in my neighborhood, I have seen two driving on electric only. I have seen more Ford Hybrids on electric only and the Fords are very rare here. Compare the Prius to the original Honda Insight if you are a “I only buy Japanese cars person”.

          As for Japan’s problem with toxic waste, honestly check out what they do with it, and you will boycott Japan as I am. The east coast of Africa is their current dumping ground, which explains why the Somali fisherman have turned to piracy to feed their families. AS IN ALL THE FISH ARE NOW DEAD!
          ( Or did you just believe that these people simply chose to be bandits )

          If you wish to understand Japan’s problem with toxic waste, you have to understand that Japan has cultivated or developed all the land available, so there is simply no place to put their toxic waste.

          Originally Japan operated incinerator ships like the French did to reduce the volume they had to store, until the cost of heavy bunker crude oil became to costly, then they started dumping the drums into the ocean instead, as they ran out of places to store them.

          The current method of Japan’s organized crime, who handle such waste disposal businesses, is to transport their toxic waste to the third world, and dump the most expensive containers in the ocean in route. Hence the reason that Japanese characters are very common on said shipping containers full of drums of toxic waste that keep washing ashore.

          I have no doubt that you wish to be environmentally responsible given that you drive a Prius, but the truth is that “if everyone drove a Prius, there would be a lot more toxic waste in the ocean, as Japan does not believe in “cradle to grave.”

          As for having two Prius owners get in my face for driving a compact Audi (for about 4,000 miles/ year) I have had this experience twice. I have also seen two of these special people intentionally slow down to 20 mph on a 50 mph road to block traffic, causing an accident.

          • Robert Howd

            Would you care to provide any references for your claim that Japan is violating, either over or under the table, the Laws of the Sea Treaty that they signed agreeing not to dump toxic waste in the sea?
            I’m of the opinion that the depletion of fish in Somali water is because of unchecked exploitation of the fisheries due to the collapse of the Somali government, as documented in the Time article, “How Somalia’s Fishermen Became Pirates,” Apr. 18, 2009, and not because of any toxic pollution.
            Also, would you care to explain any evidence that a rear-end collision was due to a traction-control bug? People tend to claim anything they can to avoid financial responsibility. Did an insurance company agree with them?
            Would you care to share how you can see that a Prius is or is not driving on electric only? Most of my driving “around the neighborhood” in my plug-in Prius is indeed on the electric motor.
            Finally, would you care to provide any evidence at all that the average mpg for Prii in Oregon is 30-35 mpg? If you go to Fuelly.com, you can see that the average for the 2347 Prii listed there is 47 mpg. We also use 10% alcohol gas in California, and when driving on gas, I get about 53 mpg; my overall mpg (which includes miles on the battery) is 65, as listed on Fuelly.com

            • davidhollenshead

              #1 I have seen photos of containers being dumped off the coast of Africa, taken by a friend who traded a successful career as a merchant marine to work on the sea shepherd. At first they thought a container ship had sunk, until the fog lifted and they saw the containers being dumped overboard.
              Al Jazzera has reported on the dumping of Toxins off Somalia. Most commercial media does not want to offend their advertisers.
              The history is that the Japanese used to use incinerator ships until the cost of oil went up in the seventies. This is when the illegal dumping started, as all the land Japan is used for habitation, food production, industry, or is un-developable.
              In case you are like the Prius owner that swore at me and dented my car at the supermarket because I “was killing the environment” and if you believe that “if you are not driving a Japanese car you are killing the environment” as she told me, here is some information about Japan:
              Did you know that the Japanese junk their cars at four years of age?
              Did you know that because it is culturally unacceptable to sell or give away used consumer goods in Japan, so that when they upgrade a durable consumer good like a home stereo or bicycle they throw away the old one regardless of condition?
              Did you know that Japan still has not destroyed the chemical and biological weapons it dumped in China at the end of World War Two? It’s current method of stalling is to keep saying we will do it in ten years, repeatedly. And yes they have no place to store or incinerate them in Japan.
              #2 I can tell when a hybrid’s engine is running because of the sound, and where I live, most often they are running on the engine. I used to work as a import mechanic and I probably know more about cars than you do, how many Japanese car engines have you rebuilt?
              #3 Hybrids are an interesting technology, but seem to be little use in climates like mine when you need the climate controls for most of the year, as most need the engine for climate control. I was surprised to learn that my 86 Ford Escort Pony got better mileage than a friends Prius hybrid, especially since he drives slow and I don’t.
              #4 The Prius is known for having an extremely big environmental cost to manufacture, this has been in the media. While I do like some of the current electric cars, I realize that they also have a large environmental cost. This can only be reduced by converting our electrical generation to a hybrid renewable – non renewable model, that uses carbon based fuels only at times when renewable energy is not available.
              #5 A friends Prius was totaled because of the said traction control bug, which was a relief for him as he found it to used more fuel, and was not as reliable as the base model Prius that he traded in to buy it. Only in the fall and spring did it actually get slightly better mileage than the base model.
              #6 I met one of my cities’ mechanic who is looking for a better job, in part because the city chose the Prius Hybrid as a motor pool car. The headlights are $650 in parts and labor to replace and due to our climate they fail very often, as all cars headlights do here.
              #7 Your mileage numbers are BS since you are using a plug in hybrid. They are only comparable if you stopped charging it, or were comparing a non hybrid model. Calculations based on the cost of electricity make no statement of the environmental impact, and are thus meaningless unless you consider money the only concern, and the burning of coal to feed your car unimportant. And yes even if you chose a green electrical supplier, you are still burning coal some of the time, due to the nature of renewable energy, unless you always charge it during the daytime.
              #8 If your state requires 10% ethanol gasoline, then the miles per gallon will drop by 10 to 20%, but the pollution per mile will be reduced. So arguments about mpg, by people in different states can be very misleading. For example my 3/4 ton cargo van used to get over 15 mpg on the highway, but here, the best I have seen is 13.5 mpg mostly due to the fuel, partly due to congestion and hills.
              #9 The bottom line is the net environmental impact included the cost of manufacture, fuel, service, and eventual disposal over the lifespan of the car. In this case, no Japanese cars compare to the economy models made in Europe or North America, as Europe and North America have cradle to grave.

            • Charlie Harnett

              davidhollenshead,

              On 10% ethanol, the Prius gets 30-35 MPG?? Wow. I use 10% ethanol and I get 48 to 52 MPG. What am I doing wrong?
              By the way, if Fords generally lasted 500K miles – or even 200K miles, nobody would be buying Toyotas, they’d have been happy and satisfied with Ford and never would have switched. We bought a Ford and put 3 transmissions into it in a little over 2 years. Everyone I know who bought a Ford in that timeframe needed a new transmission within 100K miles. My brother and my brother-in-law were both, as we were, stranded by Ford transmission failures while on vacation.
              After the third transmission replacement, I wrote to Dearborn and complained and asked for a warranty extension on the transmission. Ford did call back, mostly to tell me I could get stuffed.
              After experimenting with VW (never again!), we switched to Toyotas and have been driving them ever since. They have had the lowest cost of ownership of any cars we’ve owned and been the most trouble-free. Ford has about as much chance of winning my business back as you have of flapping your arms and flying to the moon.
              Now, I’d consider looking into your other claims but when you start out with absolute malarkey, as your 30-35MPG claim (check Fuelly.com or fueleconomy.gov for averages from hundreds of users), then I know it’s not worth my time to investigate anything else you have to say.

            • davidhollenshead

              You appear to be threatened by my criticism of Toyota,
              I tried to explain to you:

              As an environmentalist, I am boycotting Japanese products until they handle their toxic waste responsibly, which is an issue that no one seems to want to address, in part because most cars sold in the U.S. have Japanese content, just as most have American content.

              Our commercial media simply is afraid to risk loosing advertisements. Since Qatar pays for Al Jazzera they have no such problem reporting on the containers that are being illegally dumped in the sea.
              Note, Japan has also signed commercial fishing treaties and yet is one of the worst illegal fishing violators, and were even drift netting in U.S. waters at one point.

              Just because my E-150 went half a million miles before needing engine and transmission work, doesn’t mean that I would say that all fords are good. You are right about Fords automatics, as GM makes the industries best automatic, but I never buy automatics.

              As a former import mechanic I would not buy from certain companies including Honda and Toyota, and Nissan. Nissan sold non U.S. spec. cars in parts of the country at one point, I know because a friend’s family owned a salvage yard that had the D.O.T. contract to crush them within an hour of their arrival. And Honda charged $300 per ball joint at one point, compared to $20-30 for German and American Cars.

              The last Japanese car I recommended was the Toyota Tercel, to two people I knew:
              One had the timing belt tension-er break one month out of warrantee and the replacement took 7.5 months to arrive, because Toyota was originally insisting the only way to get this part was to buy a replacement engine, instead of a $100 part.
              The other bought a Tercel with the manual transmission which that ate reverse gear every 20-30k miles due to the gears being cross cut in the wrong direction. Toyota never issued a fix for this since it involved replacing all the Tercel manuals for a years production.

              So I stopped recommending cars from any maker period. But I do tell people to ignore the advice from anyone who says I only buy from a single manufacturer, like “I only buy Honda”.

              By the way the worst car I ever worked on was a Toyota LE van, which was a total money pit for it’s owner and less reliable than the worst American car I know of, the Vega, it was even worse than the Honda Civic 1200, which made the Vega look like a good car. The Toyota’s owner said never again about Toyota after having owned a half a dozen of their cars over the years, just because of the LE.

              And yes, V.W. Customer Relations really does suck, they would not respond to a dealer charging me for a federally mandated emissions recall.

              I never had any issues with Ford Customer relations, but then I only had to deal with them a half a dozen times over the years. They even resolved an issue with a ford dealer making my mom’s broken A.C. worse, and even forced the dealer to refund the costs of fixing it right at an independent shop.

              As I told you, fuel economy varies due to many factors, including, age of the car, congestion and hills. The only person I know that actually computed their fuel economy using a G.P.S. with a Prius Hybrid found the mileage when the climate controls were needed, to be much lower than average, and regretted trading his base model Prius for it. The same appears to be true for some Honda Civic hybrids. The problem seems to be that the batteries loose significant storage capacity sooner than the five years that one would expect.

              The best cars for the environment currently appear to be simple, durable, manual transmission sub-compacts, of which there are few offered in the U.S. The Ford Fiesta may be such a car, if it is as good as the European version, but only time will tell, as it could be another Taurus.

              Electric cars and hybrids may be better when we start using more renewable energy sources to generate power. As it is, most people who charge them with a “green energy company” at night are still using electricity from coal. Even one of the Chevy Volts developers has gone on N.P.R. to explain this problem.

              Peace

            • Charlie Harnett

              Have a look:
              http://www.fuelly.com/car/toyota/prius
              Perhaps your acquaintance does not know how to release the emergency brak?
              .
              You can also look at this:
              http://www.economist.com/node/169446
              I noticed the following:
              “Other forces are at work, too. Japanese manufacturers have been adopting the international ISO14,000 standard of environmental good housekeeping faster than those of any other country. By February, some 730 industrial sites in Japan had become fully compliant, compared with 525 in Britain and a mere 110 in America.”
              To avoid a particular Japanese product because Japan has some problems (and Toyota may have little to do with that) strikes me as pointless. I expect the bulk of our progress in GHG abatement and pollution reduction stems from outsourcing our GHG and pollution production to China.
              I drive a Prius and I’m happy with it (my other car is an inexpensive compact car with a manual transmission). It abates GHG emissions, at least to some extent. Better than most everything else on the road, anyway. I also walk when it’s reasonable to do so and use a bike for some of my commuting and errands. I made deliberate lifestyle choices that reduce my personal impact.
              Of course, the emissions I abate and the fuel I save merely helps keep the price of fuel down, which allows some idiot to blow what I saved out the tailpipe of his new F-150.
              As for Toyotas, recommend what you like or not. I continue to recommend Toyotas because every reasonable survey I’ve seen says they are highly reliable. They are fuel efficiency leaders and a good value. My personal fleet of Toyotas has been more trouble-free than any other make of car I have owned.
              Reliability itself tends to reduce pollution, as reliable cars will be kept in the fleet longer, thus postponing the environmental impact of producing a replacement.

            • davidhollenshead

              Consider reading about Japan, South Korea and China’s behavior as they all have broken fishing treaties and environmental laws. If American’s and Canadian’s were willing to risk getting shot at fighting the drift-netting off the west coast, perhaps the above countries are not exactly green. If one considers their population, then Japan is by far the worst violator, followed by South Korea, followed by China. All three have issues dealing with their toxic waste.

              Japan’s big issues is major organized crime, and a lack of any good place to store toxins. So they have third world countries process it and dump the containers that are too expensive to treat in the ocean, and have used: The Mariana Trench, the coast off the Philippines and the east coast of Africa. The dumping off Somalia involved paying bribes to officials of it’s limited central government, which was cover by Al-Jazzera and other non-western press. Japan could be forced to stop killing Marine mammals and dumping toxic waste if we cared enough to boycott them for just a year. This was not my idea, but one of their own citizen’s.

              My friends two year old Prius was getting bad fuel economy due to the climate controls being needed, and due to a weak storage battery, which the dealer claimed tested fine. I was going to try to help him resolve the storage battery issue, as I have helped others with automakers, but the Prius got rear ended because it’s traction control switched on erroneously and cut the power to front wheels. His average fuel economy on his previous base model Prius was better than the hybrid, except in spring and fall. And yes, he used a GPS, not the odometer, to calculate the economy on both models. Considering that he was getting excellent economy on his mini-van, I was surprised to find that the performance on the hybrid was so bad.

              About fuel economy claims, I have heard a the non-plug in Prius owner claim 70 mpg, but then I have heard of rear wheel drive Cadillac owners claim 35 mpg, so I am skeptical. We go camping in my VW Vanagon Westy, and get 19, but I had one owner claim 24 mpg on the automatic version, which I know was total bs.

              As for avoiding driving, both my wife and I walk and use mass transit daily but drive when we have to. When I use the E-150 for construction in town, it can get as little as 10 mpg, but the alternative is having a medium commercial truck that gets 4 or 5 mpg to deliver half a ton of materials. We have friends with a farm that get less than 5 mpg with a four wheel drive, full sized ford pickup, which sounds bad, unless you consider that it never drives more than a few miles at a time, always is loaded, and in 4 wheel low and is driven in the mud and snow.

              You previously suggested that Fords are junk, and all have bad automatics, which surprises me. My mom and her boyfriend have a eight year old focus wagon and E-250, and both are automatic. The Focus has been trouble free, and the only things that broke on the E-250 is were parts added by the company that turned it into a camper. Regarding the ford automatics that failed on you, did you turn off overdrive in the mountains as the owners manual suggests? Did you forget to service them, or was this a Taurus?

              I have heard a number of people compare their modern Japanese car to the Vega, or other seventies car as an argument that American cars suck. They never seem to compare cars built at about the same time, like I did, comparing my Ford Escort Pony, to the Tercel.

              The favorite personal car of ASC certified mechanics is the front wheel drive Buick Century, because it is almost indestructible and mechanics hate working on their own car. A friend was given a trashed Century by one of his customers, and he decided to see how long it would last without maintenance, except when required for safety. So after five and a half years, without even an oil change, it still would not die. All he did was add fluids, replace a headlight, front brake pads, and tires.

              Lastly if your opinions are influenced by consumer reports who said buy an Toyota as they are all good (without testing them), consider that C.R. gave Honda’s first SUV a best buy, and the Isuzu a worst buy. They were exactly the same car, except emblems, paint color, interior fabric and brand of tires, as both were made by Isuzu with exactly the same parts, so that only one DOT and EPA test would be needed.

            • Charlie Harnett

              Yeah, yeah, yeah… If you’d like to provide some authoritative links for any of your allegations, I’ll be happy to look at them. However, unless you can show that offshoring toxic waste is official Japanese (Chinese or Korean) policy, then it’s not terribly interesting to anyone except those dissatisfied with Japan’s postwar success.
              In my experience, Fords bite. Now, if your experience was better, all well and good. For You. Our Ford was a mature vehicle from the mid-’90’s. I’d expect a mature vehicle to have all the major bugs worked out but this was certainly not the case and Ford’s attitude (they *literally* told me they didn’t care if I ever bought another Ford again) certainly didn’t help matters at all.
              In the early ’70’s, Japanese cars were a curiosity. A combination of appropriate market readiness (small cars in ’73 and again in ’78) and sufficient consumer dissatisfaction with Detroit got them rolling.
              In the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, it was not at all uncommon – in fact it’s not particularly uncommon today – to hear Japanese cars referred to as “Jap Crap.” There was fairly high consumer resistance and, had Ford, GM and Chrysler been building cars that were as good or better, Japan would be looking at single-digit market share today.
              But the fact of the matter is, they won people over with superior product at value prices and they are still doing it today.
              The other Fords I mentioned were owned more recently… Nobody’s comparing ’70’s Detroiters to ’00’s Japanese cars. Year for year and dollar for dollar, some (not all) of the Japanese makers have been doing a sufficiently better job than the Detroiters to earn and keep share.
              Business 101 – it’s easier to keep a customer than win him back. This lesson is as old as the hills and the Detroiters didn’t pay attention to it. Once I’m driving Toyotas and perfectly satisfied with them and with my relationship to the dealer… why would I switch? Indeed, I have no plans to do so. This isn’t my problem, it’s Detroit’s.
              There are a number of cases where CR will rank one nearly identical model differently than its cousin. Pricing and features can make a difference. In any event, I doubt that they ranke the Passport highest and Trooper worst, I am comfortable that this is an urban legend. What I do know for a fact is this: I started taking CR’s advice over a decade ago and I’ve been very satisfied with the results.
              Finally, if the Buick Century is so wonderful and indestructible… Where are they? The oldest cars in my neighborhood are a 40 year old Toyota and some Hondas and Toyotas from the ’80’s.
              You might want to google up the DesRosiers longevity report. It uses Canadian data and the latest accessible version is probably from 2010 or so but it will give you a clear picture of which cars are, in fact, the longest-lasting.