Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Toyota Prius cedes Japan car market leadership to Honda Fit in Jan.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius hybrid surrendered its leadership in Japan's passenger car marketplace in January for the first time in 20 months, with Honda Motor Co.'s subcompact fit probable to capture the top slot, industry sources said Tuesday.

Overall vehicle sales in January, excluding mini vehicles with engines of up to 660 cc, tumbled 21.5 percent from a year former to 187,154 units, falling for the fifth successive month, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said the similar day.

While sales of the Prius began falling year on year following the government subsidy program to promote eco-friendly car purchases ended in September, Fit sales have been robust due to the launch in October of a hybrid model with a preliminary price of 1.59 million yen, the most inexpensive in Japan amongst vehicles powered by electric motors and gasoline.

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