2009 "Year of the Hybrid" in Japan

The Toyota Prius was the bestselling car in Japan in 2009, the first time a hybrid has taken the accolade, according to figures released January 8.

Toyota sold 208,879 Prius vehicles in Japan through 2009, making it the bestselling car in the country as well as the bestselling hybrid in the world. It easily outsold the next bestselling hybrid, the Honda Insight, which sold 93,283 vehicles and was fifth in the country's overall rankings.

In total, the number of Prius sales tripled between 2008 and 2009, putting it ahead of the Honda Fit and the Toyota Vitz, in second and third place respectively.

The Prius's success has been widely attributed to stimulus packages that have made green vehicles more affordable and provided incentives to scrap older vehicles. It is reported that the incentives, due to expire in September 2010, can save consumers as much as 394,500 yen (€2,963) on the price of an entry-level Prius.

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