Toyota‘s (NYSE:TM) Prius isn’t just an environmentally conscious niche car anymore. In fact, the little Prius is now the world’s third best selling car, behind the Toyota Corolla and Ford‘s (NYSE:F) Focus.
With gasoline prices still near record highs, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a fuel efficient vehicle is popular. Still, the Prius’ emergence as a leading vehicle validates the idea that small hybrid cars draw consumers.
Benefiting from tax incentives and government rebates in Japan, Toyota has expanded the Prius family to four vehicles, including the Prius Aqua, which quickly became a hot seller among Japanese consumers, Bloomberg reports.
In fact, sales of the Prius have helped Toyota regain its ranking as the world’s largest automotive manufacturer, which it lost in the aftermath of last year’s natural disaster in Japan. In the first quarter of this year, Toyota’s global sales beat GM and Volkswagen (PINK:VLKAY) to grab the top spot once more.
Analysts cited by Bloomberg noted that the Prius had emerged as its own brand within Toyota.
Demand in the U.S. is growing with the capacity to sell at least 250,000 cars this year. However, since Toyota is only expected to export 220,000 Prius models to the U.S., Americans who want a Prius may have to stand in line.