Toyota U.S. Chief: We’re selling 250,000 Prius vehicles this year image

Toyota, the largest carmaker in the world said today that the company expect to meet its sales target of 250,000 Prius hybrid vehicles in the United States.

“We’re on target for sales of 250,000 units of the Prius family,” Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North American chief executive officer, said today in Nagoya City, Japan. “The U.S. economyfinally seems to be improving.”

The announcement comes after the Japanese automaker said its sales last month rose 2.5 percent to 207,952 vehicles in the U.S. – figures that were in line with analysts’ expectations for the month of May. 23,522 Prius vehicles were sold last month, an increase of almost 10 percent (9.5 percent) compared to May 2012 when Toyota sold 21,477 units.

However competition is very fierce this year, as gas prices are relatively low compared to 2012, and, of course demand for low fuel consumption vehicles may fell.

Last month was a gold mine for automakers in the United States as most of the Americans raced to replace the aging pickups they held on to during the recession. Overall, in May there were sold 1.4 million vehicles – up 8 percent compared to May 2012.

Nissan, Japan’s second largest automaker reported its highest May sales after the company cut prices on seven popular vehicles.

Until now, many analysts and executives have forecast 2013 U.S. sales will finish in the 15 million to 15.5 million range. That’s 0.5 to 1 million more vehicles compared to 2012 when in the United States were sold 14.5 million vehicles.

Year to date sales of Prius vehicles are down 7.8 percent – 99,135 units compared to 107,504 Jan-May 2012.