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Toyota Prius: Premium, Popular, Pricey



With Americans suddenly reacting strongly to soaring gasoline prices, four Japanese cars outsold Ford's (F) fuel-thirsty F-Series pickup truck for the first time ever in May: the Toyota Camry and new 2009 Corolla, and Honda's (HMC) Civic and recently redesigned Accord. Yet, oddly, the most fuel-efficient model on the market, the hybrid-powered Toyota Prius, saw its sales plunge 39.8% in May, to just 15,011 units. Prius sales are up a mere 2.2%, to 79,675, so far this year.

What's going on? There certainly is no lack of demand for the Prius. A Toyota Motor (TM) spokesman says dealers have waiting lists of potential buyers and that Priuses typically sell within hours of hitting the sales lot. The problem is that Toyota simply can't produce enough of them to keep up with surging demand. The Japanese parent company has allocated about 15,000 Priuses per month to the U.S. market, which adds up to about the same as last year's sales of 181,221 units (up 69% from 2006). The main bottleneck is that Panasonic (MC), the company that produces the hybrid's batteries, is scrambling to increase production.

Meanwhile, the Prius' price is rising. Although Toyota discourages dealers from charging a premium for hard-to-get models, you may have to pay more than list price to get one. On top of that, on May 2, Toyota raised the Prius' U.S. base price by $400, or 1.8%, to $22,160. Even so, my hunch is the company could easily sell 250,000 Priuses in the U.S. this year, if it could only make more of them.

At a press event, I recently test-drove the '08 Prius Touring model back-to-back with its main competitor, the Honda Civic Hybrid. The Prius still has a lot to offer, even though it has been on the market since the 2001 model year and is overdue for a major redesign (which is coming soon). The current second-generation Prius, which first came out as a 2004 model, feels roomier inside than the Civic Hybrid. And while the other hybrids look almost identical to their conventionally powered siblings, the Prius' quirky hunch-backed roofline and goofy two-tier rear window make it instantly recognizable. Buying a Prius is still one of the best ways to make a political statement that Americans must reduce their fuel consumption and carbon footprint.

http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/jun2008/bw2008066_698864.htm?campaign_id=yhoo
 

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Hey rick and lutz. Hybrids are joke right.? they are just marketing tool? Toyota can not produce enough of them. Do you people see how bad gm management is? O yea we get two mode tahoe that gets 20 mpg. with price of fuel over $4 per gallon no wonder nobody is buying two mode hybrids.
 

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They WERE a marketing tool since they lost thousands on each one...Anyone can make demand by subsidizing a product. Also, Toyota artificially limits production to boost demand...If hyrbids were the pancea of cars then why is Toyota not building every one of their vehicles as a hybrid? Simply put, they do not want to, combined with subsidizing until recently, and you have more demand than supply.

Do you ever notice that Toyota articles suddenly pop up in the news when GM makes a Volt announcement? It looks like GM is now the leader and Toyota the follower...Toyota better sell as many hybrids as they can before the Volt changes the whole equation.
 

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Hey rick and lutz. Hybrids are joke right.? they are just marketing tool? Toyota can not produce enough of them. Do you people see how bad gm management is? O yea we get two mode tahoe that gets 20 mpg. with price of fuel over $4 per gallon no wonder nobody is buying two mode hybrids.
Hybrids still aren't nearly as popular as other fuel efficient choices. They're still too expensive to justify the costs. And the Prius is still ugly, no matter how many mpg it gets. So it's not the Hybrid market that GM is missing out on, it's the car market in general.
 

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Hey rick and lutz. Hybrids are joke right.? they are just marketing tool? Toyota can not produce enough of them. Do you people see how bad gm management is? O yea we get two mode tahoe that gets 20 mpg. with price of fuel over $4 per gallon no wonder nobody is buying two mode hybrids.
Yes, GM dropped the ball on this one, I'll give you that, but when the Prius hit the market 7 years ago, it WAS a marketing tool. It was sold as a way to reduce greenhouse gases, not as a fuel-efficient car. Now that fuel economy is trumping horsepower - for some people, not all, I am not implying that no one cares about horsepower - GM is behind the curve. So is Mitsubishi, Ford, Mazda, VW, Volvo....well, pretty much everyone that is not Honda or Toyota, the only two offering hybrid cars. I am not counting Nissan because the Altima hybrid is pretty much a reskinned (hehehe) Camry Hybrid with a Nissan ICE. Why don't people rip on the other companies that aren't selling hybrid cars? Ah. Because it's fashionable to hate the Detroit Big Three.

As for Prius' selling 'hours after hitting the lot'...not so much back here. There's about 35 of them sitting at Performance Toyota in LaVista. They aren't that popular back here. Sure, there's quite a few of them, my neighbor has one, but they aren't selling out in mere hours nor are they selling for a premium. Yet.
 

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The article is a joke. Panasonic can't make enough batteries, but they also aren't making less batteries than before. Therefore the 39% decrease has nothing to do with them not meeting demand. It's purely Toyota trying to blame someone else for their wondercar not selling.
 

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Yes, GM dropped the ball on this one, I'll give you that, but when the Prius hit the market 7 years ago, it WAS a marketing tool. It was sold as a way to reduce greenhouse gases, not as a fuel-efficient car. Now that fuel economy is trumping horsepower - for some people, not all, I am not implying that no one cares about horsepower - GM is behind the curve. So is Mitsubishi, Ford, Mazda, VW, Volvo....well, pretty much everyone that is not Honda or Toyota, the only two offering hybrid cars. I am not counting Nissan because the Altima hybrid is pretty much a reskinned (hehehe) Camry Hybrid with a Nissan ICE. Why don't people rip on the other companies that aren't selling hybrid cars? Ah. Because it's fashionable to hate the Detroit Big Three.

As for Prius' selling 'hours after hitting the lot'...not so much back here. There's about 35 of them sitting at Performance Toyota in LaVista. They aren't that popular back here. Sure, there's quite a few of them, my neighbor has one, but they aren't selling out in mere hours nor are they selling for a premium. Yet.
Well, according to the article, even Toyota is behind the curve. Seems that they didn't plan properly for the swing to fuel efficient cars either - seeing as how they can't keep up with demand. Granted, they were in a much better place than GM to start, but they also failed to see the quick swing. Think about that before everybody starts bashing GM so much.
 

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Interesting that the Prius is in short-supply judging by this review. Is the Prius selling primarliy on the "jump on the bandwagon" theory of is it really just a great car?

I am not a big Toyota fan--but if I were I would just buy a Corolla, save 10K and have a better driving experience to boot!

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008-toyota-prius-review/

The Prius’ interior reeks of cost savings. Toyota hid all the really nasty plastic where fingers rarely dwell (lost parking tickets and french fries excepted). Strangely rippled soft touch materials resembling burnt Ruffles potato chips cover half of the dash, steering wheel and door panels. While it looks “interesting,” a close encounter of the third kind is like caressing a hairless cat. And the lack of beauty was more than skin deep; the center console shook more violently than a crack addict at the Western Casino and Bingo Hall.
The Prius places all the important driving info at the base of the windshield. After a few days, it was no biggie– unlike the gigantic ode to geekdom rising out of the dash like an electronic Kilimanjaro. The LCD information display that controls the car’s auxiliary functions is not so functional (Mr. Bond). The combination of buttons and touch-screen interface makes every adjustment– from the air-conditioner to changing radio stations– a tiresome two or three press affair. [Note: I fly AWACS for a living.]
At least the Prius gives drivers a choice between green and orange tones on the display, depending on whether you’ve got spring or autumn skin tones.
The Prius is motivated by a 76bhp 1.5-liter gas engine married to a 67bhp electric motor, a battery-powered powerplant that stumps-up an astounding 295ft-lbs of torque at 0 rpm. Around town, the Prius could not be easier to drive. It’s quick on its feet, nimble and almost tossable. In Las Vegas traffic, the Prius returned a laudable, affordable 40.5mpg. In stop-and-go traffic, the family-sized golf cart is in its natural element. Magic.
It’s an entirely different story on the open road. Find a slightly hilly/curvaceous piece of interstate and the Prius is more out of place than a *** pride parade at a West Texas football game. On level ground, the Prius easily attains 80, even 90mph (as the Clark County Police pointed out). Introduce a small incline, let alone a mountainous circuit, and the Prius huffs, and puffs, and gets blown off the road by any other vehicle, down to and including a Smart ForTwo.
Climbing the road to the summit of Mt. Charleston, the Prius quickly drained its batteries. It could groan no faster than a pathetic 57mph. Once the battery boost ceased to exist, the CVT transmission buzzed louder, and louder, reducing fuel consumption to 17.5mpg. Throttle response ceased to exist, and momentum became the name of the game.
If the Prius handled like a Honda Civic, you could dismiss its Pinto-like performance with the old “a slow car driven fast can be fun" argument. Nope. The Prius washed out into drastic understeer on every curve. In fact, the battery pack in the rear caused the back end to sway outwards when I lifted off the throttle. Who knew you could have a ‘moment’ in a Prius?
The more I pushed the Prius– and I mean that in the “I want to get home in time for dinner” sense of the word– the more it resembled a four-wheeled Lean Pocket. (“Remove from box, place directly in InSinkErator.”)
As a driving enthusiast, I’d describe the Prius as a funky Corolla with a big battery and bad handling. As an observer of the automotive scene, I’d call the Prius the uber-Toyota: inexpensive, efficient, reliable transportation that makes you feel good about not driving anything else. I’m not damning the car with faint praise; it’s what makes the Prius the people’s car of our time.
 

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I'll take the Cobalt XFE 5 speed with it's new stricter 36 MPG rating and 155 HP thank you. I had one of these out for a nice long test drive on the Thruway going 70 MPH and the trip computer kept climbing to a high of 39.3 which is within striking distance of what many claim to get on the fat ugly Prius. All this and the car only had 200 miles on the odometer!
 

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Hey rick and lutz. Hybrids are joke right.? they are just marketing tool? Toyota can not produce enough of them. Do you people see how bad gm management is? O yea we get two mode tahoe that gets 20 mpg. with price of fuel over $4 per gallon no wonder nobody is buying two mode hybrids.
If Toyota was all that and a bag of chips they wouldn't have spent $1.3 Billion on a new plant in San Antonio that opened in late 2006 to build Trundas which last month sold 14k. Why didn't they build a plant to produce Priuses if they have this impeccable foresight? What's wrong with Toyota leadership and management, why didn't they get this right?
 

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Saw one in Montreal. Nice, like the regular Malibu. $27,000 Canadian.
Yesterday I drove home from my folks home in Mobile, AL to Tuscaloosa, AL down some back country roads full of hills and little towns in my 2006 Cobalt LT coupe with a 4-speed auto. On my trip I was passed (going 70-80) by two new Priuses, a new Accord Coupe and a Civic hybrid (all had dealer tags on them still).

By driving 5mph under the speed limit at times, staying at or under 2100 rpm and decellerating up hills, I added 15 minutes to the trip and got 39.5 mpg. So I wonder if those Prius's were getting better? I guess not and they probably finished the trip 15 minutes quicker.....CONGRATS ON PAYING OVER STICKER.

Think of reduced fat Pringles and then realize that if you eat twice as many you still gain weight. You can't buy your way to better fuel economy, you have to change the way you do things.
 

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Yesterday I drove home from my folks home in Mobile, AL to Tuscaloosa, AL down some back country roads full of hills and little towns in my 2006 Cobalt LT coupe with a 4-speed auto. On my trip I was passed (going 70-80) by two new Priuses, a new Accord Coupe and a Civic hybrid (all had dealer tags on them still).

By driving 5mph under the speed limit at times, staying at or under 2100 rpm and decellerating up hills, I added 15 minutes to the trip and got 39.5 mpg. So I wonder if those Prius's were getting better? I guess not and they probably finished the trip 15 minutes quicker.....CONGRATS ON PAYING OVER STICKER.

Think of reduced fat Pringles and then realize that if you eat twice as many you still gain weight. You can't buy your way to better fuel economy, you have to change the way you do things.
People can see much better MPG if they just changed their driving habits just a little, Ive always been able to hit or exceed the old EPA fuel economy numbers now the new ones are just a joke to me.
 

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gm is always behind the curb, for my 20 years of keeping track of our domestic vehicle, every five years i see "in hindsight we should have....." im to the point of acceptting the imports---eventually gm/f/ch will go down. our economy going to offshore.

what obout the cobalt with bas system---maybe 40mpg
 

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gm is always behind the curb, for my 20 years of keeping track of our domestic vehicle, every five years i see "in hindsight we should have....." im to the point of acceptting the imports---eventually gm/f/ch will go down. our economy going to offshore.

what obout the cobalt with bas system---maybe 40mpg
Spews of useless negativity. If it has taken you 20 years to consider an import then there are not doing their job well. Also, if "our economy goes off shore" (whatever that means) then our homes and people will also. It is mathematically impossible to import everything.

You know what I think a recession is? 3.2 million people like you telling their friends that they can't do anything to fix anything. Grab you some presciption drugs and get happy, jeez.
 

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You can't buy your way to better fuel economy, you have to change the way you do things.
That is one of the best statements about fuel economy I've read in quite a long time. I may borrow that as a signature.:D

I too am confused by people who rush out and trade in their current car on one that gets 3-5mpg better....and costs them $50-$150 a month more in payments, all to save $5-$20 a week in gas. Dorks. ;)
 

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While people would like us to beleive that the environment is the main reason for heir hybrid purchase, reality is that "financial cost" is likely the real motivator. You have to wonder how much thought goes into the average hybrid purchase, especially given the fantastic economy (and related emissions) that can be found in many of the modern 4 cylinder 5/6 speed automatics offered on the market today.

Personally, I can't see paying a premium for a hybrid family sedan when there is a vast range of great family vehicles from the new 4cyl 6speed Malibu to Honda's Accord. Toyota's Camry and Nissan's Altima; all with great fuel economy and price attractively.

For my money I think I would rather save the extra thousands you pay for a hybrid and would opt for a modern and efficient 4 cyl.
 
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