Toyota Prius Leads Japan's June Auto Sales

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota's Prius ranked as Japan's top-selling car in June, clinching the No. 1 spot for the 14th straight month on the back of brisk demand for green vehicles.

Toyota Motor Corp. sold 31,876 of the gas-electric cars last month, far outnumbering Honda's fuel-efficient Fit, which came in second place with 15,955 sales, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Tuesday.

"Demand for the Prius remains very strong as consumers continue to opt for hybrid vehicles," said association spokesman Yukio Kogoshi. Tax breaks and government subsidies for environmentally friendly cars also helped boost sales for the Prius.

The Prius, now in its third generation since its 1997 introduction, is the best-selling hybrid in the world, with a total of 1.79 million sold, according to Toyota. Demand for the vehicle is so high in Japan that it has a three-month waiting list.

But Toyota remains beset with quality problems. The world's No. 1 automaker Monday began recalling nearly 92,000 Lexus and Crown model vehicles in Japan for an engine defect. It was part of a global recall affecting 270,000 cars.

The latest quality lapse comes as Toyota tries to move on from massive global recalls that started in October. More than 8.5 million vehicles, including the Prius, have been recalled for various problems ranging from sticking gas pedals to defective floor mats to braking software glitches.

Toyota faces more than 200 lawsuits in the U.S. tied to accidents involving defective automobiles, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and a drop in its stock value.

The company's overall sales have been hurting this year following its safety-related recalls. Toyota has been trying to boost U.S. sales with promotions, including zero-percent financing and free maintenance.

More in Supply Chain