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Toyota Prius Prime Finishes 2018 As Top-Selling Affordable EV In America, Despite Tesla Model 3 Pressure

The Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle significantly outpaced GM's two affordable EV models in 2018. Even more impressive is Prime's sales in light of the Tesla Model 3.

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The Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) outsold both the Chevy Bolt battery electric vehicle (BEV) and the Chevy Volt extended-range hybrid electric vehicle (EREV) in 2018 by 35%, making the Prius Prime America's top-selling affordable electrified vehicle. What is even more impressive, is the Prius Prime's sales results in light of the Tesla Model 3.

With 27,595 units sold in 2018, the Prius Prime from Toyota beat out the Bolt's 18,019 and Volt's 18,306 unit sales in the affordable EV market. Not only has the Prius Prime outpaced these two impressive EVs, the Prius Prime finished the year with a sales increase of 31%. The Bolt declined in sales by 26% and the Volt declined in sales by 10%. The range-challenged Nissan Leaf has now dropped well out of contention for the podium with sales in 2018 of under 15,000 units.

Despite the huge success of the Model 3, Tesla has opted not to live up to its promises of an affordable version of this car. Now in its third calendar year of sales, the Tesla Model 3 is priced dramatically higher than the Prius Prime, which is available for under $20K after incentives. Most Tesla Model 3's sold have cost their owners nearly twice that after incentives.

In December, the Prius Prime had its second-best sales month of 2018 with 2,759 units delivered to owners, up by 14%. Despite the popularity of the pricey Model 3, the Prius Prime's popularity and sales are growing.

Prius Prime Quick Facts:
The Prius Prime PHEV is a Top Safety Pick from IIHS, No Tesla model has ever achieved this safety rating. The Prius Prime earns an estimated 133 MPGe rating and has an all-EV estimated range of 25 miles. When operating as a hybrid-electric vehicle the Prius Prime earns a 54 MPG rating.

Related Story: Real World Pricing Comparison - Chevy Volt & Prius Prime Cost Half What the Tesla Model 3 Does

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DeanMcManis (not verified)    January 4, 2019 - 3:13AM

The main point of your article is correct. The Prius Prime was a relative sales winner for it's class of PHEVs. But looking at your lead-in it reads like you are saying that the Prius Prime outsold the Tesla Model 3, and that is not correct. In fact even though the Prius Prime is to be commended in selling 27,595 units in 2018, Tesla looks like they sold almost as many Model 3s in just the month of December 2018 (25,250) as Toyota did the Prius Prime for the whole year. And the Model 3's sales for all of 2018 looks to be around 139,782! With the Model 3 being such a huge sales hit for the year, it shows that it really doesn't matter that they didn't build their entry $35K model after all. So kudos to Toyota for successfully selling their PHEV Prius. It helps justify Toyota building a hybrid Corolla for the 2020 MY, and moving the Prius line to not only keep the Prime model, but to add full BEV Prius models over the next few years. When Toyota starts offering BEV Lexus models, then a real comparison of price, value, and sales numbers against the Model 3 can be made.

John Goreham    January 4, 2019 - 9:19AM

Thanks, Dean. Good perspective. I tried to be clear in the story that the Prius Prime is doing well and growing in sales and popularity, despite the amazing success of the Tesla Model 3. I make clear in the title, teaser, and body of the story that the Prime's real success is when compared to other affordable models. I disagree with you that it does not matter that Tesla has not produced the $35K Model 3 it promised. Tesla is now shipping from inventory after only 100K cars were sold. With over 400K reservations at one time (according to Tesla) it seems that about 3/4 of reservation holders may have been assuming Tesla was telling the truth about the cost of the Model 3. You know from scanning the forums that there are many disappointed Model 3 fans who wanted and reserved a Model 3 expecting to pay $35K before incentives. But that is another story topic.