FINAL ASSEMBLY

In Japan, Prius rules the roost

It's easy to understand why Toyota raves about the potential for hybrids. In its home market, the Prius is undisputed king.

The Prius has been the top-selling car in Japan for 18 straight months -- quite a feat in a market where the top spots traditionally are held by minicar econoboxes. November's No. 2 was the Honda Fit, followed by minis from Daihatsu and Suzuki.

The Prius' sales clip puts it 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 in Japan totaled 297,563 units for the year through November, so the prize is clearly within its grasp. By way of comparison, Toyota sold 125,289 Priuses in the United States through November.

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