Toyota Dealers Increase Requests For Prius Prime As Sales Exceed Expectations

1 month ago by Eric Loveday 73

Toyota Prius Prime

Buried in a rather lengthy Ward’s Auto article focused mainly on Toyota’s hybrids, there’s a brief mention of the Toyota Prius Prime.

The mention focuses on demand, which is apparently so high that some dealerships are asking Toyota for more Prius Prime allocation.

Inside the Toyota Prius Prime

As Ward’s explains:

“For now, Toyota is happy with the sales pace this year of the new Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Toyota sold 2,728 in January and February, and Fay says California dealers are asking for more units.”

The Fay quoted above is Bill Fay, group vice president of Toyota.

For a look at Prius Prime sales for the year, click here.  Our own tracking and research on the subject has demonstrated that on average a Prius Prime only last ~16 days on dealer lots – a fraction of industry norms.

Fay adds that he’s “optimistic the consumer will find their way back” to non plug-in hybrids such as the Prius liftback, though we doubt those owners will go backwards from a vehicle with decent electric range to one with basically no electric range.

The numbers tell the story…

Ward’s reports:

“Prius liftback sales declined 24.4% in February vs. year-ago…”

Meanwhile, plug-in hybrid Prius sales are up through the roof.  Despite the aforementioned very limited dealer stock, the 1,362 Primes sold last month in the US was good enough to place the Toyota in the “top 3” for plug-in sales for the month.

Source: Ward’s

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81 responses to "Toyota Dealers Increase Requests For Prius Prime As Sales Exceed Expectations"

  1. jelloslug says:

    I see one regularly here in South Carolina.

  2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    A few folks in our parking garage have one.

    I just can’t get past the looks of this car…..lol

    1. sven says:

      Wear darker shades. 😉

    2. Does it look so bad from the Drivers Seat, or just from the Sidewalk?

      1. Joel says:

        Try the new Volt. It is an amazing vehicle, so much smoother than a combined drivetrain and extremely fast and powerful. Twice the range of the Prius Prime and still over 45 mpg after changing to gas.

  3. sven says:

    Surprisingly, Prius Prime owners are reporting on Fuelly.com that the MPG (including EV miles) they’re getting is about the same as Volt owners are reporting, despite the Volt having a 53 mile AER compared to the Prius Prime’s meager 25 mile AER. The Volt has a “gasoline only” combined 42 MPG rating, while the Prius has a “gasoline only” combined 54 MPG rating.

    http://www.fuelly.com/car/chevrolet/volt

    http://www.fuelly.com/car/toyota/prius_prime

    1. Fool Cells says:

      who cares? Volt owners gas engines turn on rarely compared to Prius drivers. For example my 44 mile daily round trip is all electric in my Volt. A Prius Prime with its tiny electric range would mean i would be burning toxic, polluting, cancer causing, and war causing oil every day.

      No idea why anyone would buy a Prius when the new Volts are so much better and cleaner.

      1. carjacker says:

        😂😂😂 Toyota’s are a lot better made and far more reliable than a Chevy. GM cars are notorious for electrical problems. In would never buy a volt.

        1. Koenigsegg says:

          Ya I’ve had ZERO problems in the 14,500 miles driving my Batmobile Volt. So many electrical problems that you say I have had. Believe me…. rofl

          Toyotas are cheap cars. Bum cars

          1. ffbj says:

            Perception trumps reality.

            1. Terawatt says:

              Much like Trump trumps perception of reality.

          2. Joel says:

            I agree that the Gen 2 Volt is very reliable. Ours has 20,000 in 11 months and ZERO issues. It is an amazing vehicle, so much smoother than a combined drivetrain and extremely fast and powerful. Twice the range of the Prius Prime and still over 45 mpg after changing to gas. If one purchases a vehicle without trying comparables, I would consider that an uninformed decision. I tell people asking about my Volt to drive a Prius before trying the Volt if they are not already familiar with hybrids.

        2. VFanRJ says:

          Here’s a pretty typical view from the Volt owner’s I’ve talked to.

          http://insideevs.com/chevy-volt-an-owners-2-year-review/

      2. Dave K says:

        It really depends on the person, if you had a 25 mile commute and occasionally took a road trip it would make more sense because of the better PP highway mileage.

    2. Doggydogworld says:

      Is it really that surprising? Buyers tend to self-select. I’d expect a large portion of Prime owners to have ~10 mile commutes or to be able to charge at work.

      1. Kdawg says:

        Yes, w/out all the data, it doesn’t mean much. How many EV miles are the PP drivers putting on per day vs. Volt drivers? Volt drivers tend to put on more EV miles than even Leaf drivers, because you can use the full range each day w/out worry.

      2. Nix says:

        +1

        The debate about what is the “best” PHEV range, ignores that people can look at their own odometers and choose for themselves.

        1. Even if it has half the EV range than the Volt, only means I need to charge it up 2X a Weekend: 1X for my daily commute, & 1X for my Weekend Run!

          I would probably charge up the New Volt, at least 1X, but it might be twice as well.

          Both could be done via a 120V charge for the most part.

    3. ModernMarvelFan says:

      And Volt is doing so with far better performance in acceleration/handling/braking!

  4. Big Solar says:

    Saw one in Maryland in December. Whats the AER on this car? I guess this is Toyota saying well we gotta do something to stop our old customers from buying Teslas.

    1. menorman says:

      AER for the PP is around 25 miles.

  5. Bacardi says:

    Prediction, Toyota will be hiring for new a Group vice president of Toyota shortly…

  6. Brian says:

    Fay adds that he’s “optimistic the consumer will find their way back” to non plug-in hybrids such as the Prius liftback

    Nothing like a solid case of denial. Those customers are more likely to ask why Toyota hasn’t made an even more electric car, like Chevy has. Not that Chevy is on the radar for a typical Toyota customer. But I just don’t see them “finding their way back” as if a plug-in was a bad thing.

    1. Doggydogworld says:

      He’s not talking about the few plug-in buyers migrating back to standard hybrids. He’s talking about the large numbers of hybrid buyers who defected to non-hybrids when gas prices dropped.

      1. przemo_li says:

        Wait what?

        Toyota do not have hybrid SUVs? Cause that’s where those buyers went.

        Thus it’s not for customers to walk back (pun intended) but for Toyota to provide those PHEV SUVs 😉

        1. They made a big deal of recently releasing the RAV4 Hybrid, time to give it 30-40 miles AER, and a plug!

  7. Paul says:

    I test drove one at the Washington Auto Show. It was extremely nice upgrade over the standard Prius. Definitely not surprised at this data.

  8. Peter says:

    I drove a Prius for many years, and got used to the somewhat “modern” styling, even felt it was head and shoulders above most other cars of the same size. Especially as it was so roomy inside. The lease ended and because TOYOTA was not doing anything to the PRIOUS line up, I leased a gen 1 VOLT. The VOLT was a MUCH better than the PRIUS. Now my VOLT Lease has ended and unfortunately the Gen 2 VOLT is not available in Europe. The new PRIUS is way beyond ugly.. so thats off the list.. I wont be finding my way back to a gas only car. so I ordered a TESLA S. In Belgien the Tax advantages are well worth the initial outlay.

    1. Kdawg says:

      Get an Opel Ampera-e. Those will be shipping in small qty’s to Europe soon.

    2. VFanRJ says:

      I think before anyone buys a Prius Prime they should drive a Volt.

  9. Michael Will says:

    Toyota made the ev portion low performing intentionally so people find their way back to legacy gas cars. But I think the opposite will happen, they will find that if their neighbor does only use a few gallons of gas a year because their Volt efficiently prevents the gas engine from kicking in and having more than 50 miles fully electric covered that maybe their next purchase goes EV only from a company that prioritizes for the better EV experience.

  10. BenG says:

    The Prime is a good economy plug-in. As the cheapest lift-back Prius sold, after federal rebate, there’s little reason not to buy it instead of the regular hybrid. Well, that 4 seat restriction on the Prime will be a problem for some people.

  11. Alan says:

    I thought I read somewhere that the PHEV version was around the same price or slightly cheaper than the soft hybrid version, if so, it’s hardly surprising it’s gaining in popularity.

    1. menorman says:

      MSRP is higher, but it’s cheaper after factoring in the Federal EV tax credit and any other local EV incentives. In some places, it might even come down into the high teens.

  12. James says:

    It’s duly noted Bill Fay says people will find their way back to non-plug in hybrids.

    “Find their way back”?! Hardly.

    People will love their measly 25 mile EV range and ask for more. Especially with the Bolt EV and Model 3s spreading the message of 230 mile range at a very reachable MSRP.

    Once you’ve experienced electric drive, you can’t go back.

    A very telling remark from a top Toyota executive, indeed.

    I believe the Volt may be history after the 2nd generation. It all depends upon whether or not it sells after GM passes the 200,000 tax credit limit. Since they don’t market it on mass media now, and GM is truly satisfied to sell 2,000 or less units/mo., I can’t see GM moving forward with any more plug-ins with Bolt EV now being their green halo and gas prices remaining low.

    Even with Volt 2 gone, Prius Prime and plug in customers will demand a better plug-in. If Toyota doesn’t provide one, they’ll surely go all electric.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      He was talking about the overall decline in HEV sales, not about PEV buyers returning to HEV.

      1. James says:

        Perhaps you need to re-read the text:

        “Fay adds that he’s “optimistic the consumer will find their way back” to non plug-in hybrids such as the Prius liftback”.

        “Non Plug-In hybrids”.

        So the article is about the Prime. Prime sales are up – hybrid sales down. Capiche?

        1. Doggydogworld says:

          You’re the one the needs to re-read, James. The quote came from the (linked) Ward’s Auto article that was almost entirely about the decline in Prius sales as low gas prices drive customers toward CUVs.

          Fay noted RAV4 hybrid was doing well, said dealers were trying to order more Primes, mentioned Highlander hybrid and said Toyota would continue to hybridize their CUV/SUVs. They basically see the car to CUV shift as a temporary trend and will therefore not make a Prius CUV because they’re “optimistic consumers will return” to the Prius eventually.

          1. john1701a says:

            >> They basically see the car to CUV shift as a temporary trend and will therefore not make a Prius CUV because they’re “optimistic consumers will return” to the Prius eventually.

            C-HR hybrid rollout begins this fall in Europe.

            1. Prius V needed a plug, 7.2 kW Charging, and about a 14-18 kWh Battery, about a 120 kW Electric Motor, just to scorch the Volt on Headroom + EV Range + Fuel Efficiency!

    2. VFanRJ says:

      It’s interesting to note how well the Volt is selling these days. Highest sales ever.

      1. Loboc says:

        Prime validates Volt. It is direct competition if you look at specs. This means that people are more aware of Volt and therefore sales are better.

  13. James says:

    Prime seats 4. Volt seats 4 1/2 with the two adult seating positions in back having limited
    headroom.

    It cleverly makes both the Prime and Volt a very niche product. If you want a commuter car – you may just opt for the Bolt EV, or if you’re a Toyota fan – a standard Prius or even a Camry Hybrid. This would give you more versatility.

    To think these factors are not purely planned would be naive. Truly, costs of these plug-ins is great, and their makers do not profit, or if they do – much at all, from the sales of them.

    This goes along with their meetings at the White House trying to peel back or totally scrap the mandates that force them to build the cars in the first place. It’s not what consumers want – it’s what they want to build. This dovetails nicely with ICE OEM’s mantra: “We built these cars and nobody wants them!”.

    Obviously, with dealers calling out for more Primes, people DO want them. If a car as homely as the Prime has a customer backlog even with gas prices this low… Perhaps these OEMs should wake up and smell the java.

    1. Bacardi says:

      You have some valid points, but how do we know they’re not making a profit? Sticking with the brand Toyota, the Tundra is only a sales success in the U.S., yet it ranks fairly far below the other American pickup trucks…If someone if picking which models can make a profit and which are loss leaders, why not take a loss on the base Tundra (but make it profitable at higher trims) to increase it sales? You also get a heck of a lot more from maintenance…

    2. darth says:

      James makes a very good point. Automakers want to maximize profits. So they look at the profitability of all of their cars as a whole. Profits are generally higher on larger and more luxurious vehicles. They are also required to meet CAFE standards. So they design high mileage vehicles to sell just enough to get the fleet mileage up to the CAFE requirement.

      They don’t want their PHEVs to start cutting into the sales of their more profitable models any more than CAFE requires them to.

  14. Tom says:

    The ignorance of people saying somehow the Volt is clearly superior is akin to saying clearly an Audi A6 is superior to a Chevy Malibu. It’s not the right comparison. The Prius prime is several thousand dollars cheaper. And in fact is cheaper than the regular Prius after rebates. So the decision is not Volt vs Prius or waiting for 3 years at potentially a Model 3 but rather the decision is regular hybrid vs something that is cheaper, has more goodies, and also happens to get 25 electric miles. Additionally the Prius Prime can easily be charged on a standard electrical outlet over night in your garage and the rather obvious reason to not put 50 or 60 miles of batteries in it like the Volt is that the chassis won’t handle it. Volt miles would require Toyota to engineer a completely different chassis. I restate my distaste for the purest and uneducated views of many posters here who would be better off to pull their heads out of their arse and perhaps take a science class or maybe even economics or finance. Quit buying the Corolla! Clearly the Lexus is better! duh….but I can afford a Corolla. Oh and Chevy dealers suck so there’s that too.

    1. Spin says:

      Not only that, maybe I only need 25 miles of electric? It’s about choices dummy. Different strokes for different folks.

      1. James says:

        I kind of applaud Toyota for taking styling risks, and who doesn’t like carbon fiber, such as Prime’s hatch?

        Now why did they make Prime so hard to look at? With all the goofy lines and incongruent shapes, it’s really up there into Aztek territory for homeliness.

        4 seats was not so much a mistake, as it was intended to limit consumer uptake.

        The white and black gloss plastic fingerprint magnet material mix inside is appalling. I could not live with it.

        No Android Auto nor Apple Carplay a bummer. The wonky, confusing touchscreen interface is below Toyota, and no rotary dials for audio controls? Toyota, what were you thinking?

        We do notice the more expensive rear suspension and it works much better than a twist beam. Good job on that. Strangely the Volt handles as well due to it’s weight and how the T Pack is situated.

        Both Volt and Prime could easily be more practical if their builders wanted them to be. But this would cut onto Cruze and Corolla sales.

    2. Kdawg says:

      “Additionally the Prius Prime can easily be charged on a standard electrical outlet over night in your garage”
      ————-
      Gen2 Volt will charge in 13hrs on 120V to give you 53 miles. My car is usually parked for 13 hours and I don’t use 53 miles/day most days.. more like around 40.

  15. MarkT says:

    Still not available in IL

  16. georgeS says:

    We have had an ’08 Prius, a Volt and now a Model S.

    We still have the 08 Prius. It has 104,000 miles on it now so it’s almost broken in:)

  17. EV738292 says:

    I like to do burn outs in a Prius

    1. Nix says:

      or this:

  18. David Murray says:

    I don’t think there are any Primes available in the Dallas area yet. One dealer shows to have two in stock on their website, but have no photos and I don’t think they have actually showed up yet. So there are likely zero Prius Primes to be had. So I suspect most of the country outside of California and other Carb states have yet to see any stock on this vehicle.

    I still have high hopes that it will be selling 3,000 to 5,000 per month once it is fully stocked nationwide. It’s really a no brainer when you consider how much better it is in almost every way compared to the regular Prius, and the fact it can be bought at the same price or cheaper with tax credits. Even if I had nowhere to plug it in, and I was in the market for a Prius, I’d still buy the Prime over the Gen-4 liftback.

    1. john1701a says:

      First deliveries to the Midwest are just beginning now.

      Priced so affordably and offering such high efficiency (both EV and HV ratings), it’s an easy sale.

      Demand will grow quickly, once they start showing up on roads more.

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        Buyers don’t really care much about efficiency. If they did, low gas prices would increase Prius sales instead of decreasing them.

        The key advantage for the Prime is the Prius. It gives Toyota a pool of buyers who can be converted and I think that the take rate will increase as the roll-out completes.

        But what the Prime doesn’t seem to be doing is getting conquest sales. Prius family and Prius liftback+plug-in sales have fallen year-to-year for the past 14 months, including all the 4 months with Prime sales.

        And the Ioniqs haven’t really hit the market yet.

  19. Peppa says:

    BEV rulez!

  20. Mike I. says:

    Let’s do a quick inventory check for the two cars that have made sales news today.
    Prius Prime (dealers want more)
    Chevy Bolt EV (dealers are giving big discounts)

    Cars.com reports the following inventory levels within 200 miles of San Francisco:
    Prius Prime: 51 units
    Chevy Bolt EV: 703 units

    I think it’s also telling that there are two Bay Area Chevy dealers that have more than 100 units of Bolt EV in stock.

    1. David Murray says:

      Interesting observation. I suspect price may have a lot to do with it. Although the Bolt is a a good deal considering the range you get, there are many offerings that are $10,000 cheaper that can essentially do the same thing.

    2. Kdawg says:

      Sounds like one auto company is trying to sell EVs while the other isn’t.

    3. john1701a says:

      Dealer interest is a major factor, one often disregarded as important in the past. Now, it’s finally getting proper attention. They’ll contribute heavily to demand growth.

      Being easy to sell is key. People see Prime, notice the plug and the sticker-price, then go for a test drive. The Prius reputation for being green, efficient, and reliable is already well known. Nothing else to tell the customer. That’s it. Sold.

      The salesperson could matter-of-fact mention plugging in overnight to an ordinary outlet. There literally isn’t anything else needing attention. Toyota nailed the KISS approach.

  21. Just_Chris says:

    It’s interesting to watch the roll out of the Prime and the Bolt in parallel. Toyota seem so much more in control with GM seeming to be totally erratic. It’ll be interesting to see the model 3 come in. Tesla have effectively sold the first 18-24 months worth of cars so it will be very interesting to see how their production ramps up. Then there’ll be leaf 2.0 at the very end of the year, will that be a gradual ratchet up or will Nissan start building early and drop literally thousands of Leaf into the US market at the end of the year.

    All really fascinating, it was interesting to watch all the early cars come in between 2012 and 2014 but I think the roll out of the big boys will be much more fun.

    1. Kdawg says:

      By “in control” do you mean Toyota just trickling them out? GM got lambasted for not shipping more out faster. And they still are because people in the US who can’t get a Bolt EV complain when 400 are going to Korea. Where’s the outrage that Toyota isn’t delivering?

    2. john1701a says:

      United States, Europe, and Japan are getting rollout of Prius Prime all that the same time. The expectation for first year production is 60,000. GM didn’t do that with gen-1 Volt or gen-2 Volt and isn’t planning that with Bolt either.

      Time is essential. There are only a finite number of tax-credits available, then phaseout begins. Months that follow are vital. Reaching high-volume sooner is advantageous. It’s missed opportunity if demand isn’t built up until then.

  22. Nix says:

    The Prius used to be synonymous with the term green car. A decade ago lots of Prius owners just wanted enough extra battery they could plug it in for their daily drive. Some even paid to have a second battery installed in the spare tire well.

    When the PiP came out, some of those drivers complained that the PiP didn’t even live up to their aftermarket batteries and was overpriced.

    Now it seems like Toyota has finally built a car that answers to those two sets of demands, providing just the range needed for many, at the price that they wanted. In theory that should lead to making those drivers happy. I hope it works for them.

  23. Jon parker says:

    One thing Toyota needs to address relatively soon, is there poor Entune system on the premium and higher and model. I am about to Velcro my tablet to the 11.5 inch screen. It is completely useless

    1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

      lol….

      Picture please.

  24. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Toyota still sells the Prime to people under the idea that “you don’t have to plug in”. That is their true motives. “you don’t have to plug in”.

    At least GM is trying to tell people that “you won’t have range anxiety”. That is still Electric first mentality.

    1. James says:

      +1

      True. But Chevy doesn’t advertise Volt so it’s kind of a moot point.

      I’ve been pointing out those 2016 ads they ran all throughout the NFL playoffs. A huge banner above real focus group members showing all of Chevy’s recent awards. A woman says, “Green Car Of The Year” us most important to me and the host says, “yes, Chevrolet won the 2016 Green Car Of The Year”, and moves on, not showing Volt, but a curtain rolls up revealing a Silverado, Equinox, Malibu and Cruze!

      The Volt is Chevy’s mystery car.

  25. Genoauto says:

    Wait for Ioniq due end of this year. Better mpg, plug in socket located in proper location(front left fender), probably lower price, more traditional appearance and better warranties. Only question is proven reliability but so far UK and Asia introductions without problems. Volt is great but for officianado who doesn’t use air cond. defroster and heated seats to achieve 53 miles in EV–therafter only 40 mpg

  26. BenG says:

    I still haven’t seen a Prime on the road yet (western NC), but I will say that the looks of the current liftback Prius have grown on me.

    I think as Toyotas and Lexuses with the current design cues become widespread that the weirdness of the Prime’s look will fade and it will not be a problem for most people.

  27. Jim Whitehead says:

    Given the huge demand for the Prius prime, I bet Toyota wishes they had built a Gigafactory… NOT.

    Why does Toyota hate batteries so much? Until recently, they blew a lot of hot air about Hydrogen cars being the wave of the future. Now they are being reluctantly dragged back to the table of Lithium batteries, kicking and screaming like a reluctant child who doesn’t want to eat any vegetables. 🙂

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