All hail the mighty Prius!

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TOKYO -- While sales of the Toyota Prius are down 2 percent in the United States this year, something absolutely astounding is happening in Japan.

Sales of the gasoline-electric hybrid were down here in November, too.

But the Prius topped all rivals as the No. 1 selling car in Japan. Not only that: It was the top-selling car in Japan for the 18th straight month. Repeat: 18 straight months in the pole position.

The nonstop sales domination of this pricey hybrid is nothing short of amazing in a market where the top spots traditionally are held by the minicar econoboxes of Suzuki or Daihatsu. November’s No. 2 was the Honda Fit, followed by minis from Daihatsu and Suzuki.

But wait, there’s more.

Prius sales in Japan totaled 297,563 units for the year through November. Just for reference, Toyota sold 125,289 units of the hybrid in the United States in that period.

And its Japan sales clip now puts the Prius on pace to beat Japan’s all-time annual sales record for any model. That record is held by the Toyota Corolla, which had sales of 300,008 in 1990 at the height of Japan’s economic bubble, according to the country’s Nikkei business daily.

Prius sales totaled 21,400 in November. So the prize is clearly within its grasp.

When Toyota raves about the awesome potential for hybrid vehicles, it’s easy to understand why. Despite the tepid reception handed hybrids overseas, at home the Prius is undisputed king.

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. -- Follow Hans on Twitter

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