Toyota Looks To Keep 2013 Prius Plug-In Sales On Pace With 2012. Kinda. Not Really.
About a year ago next week, Toyota introduced the plug-in Prius to the world.
For those who are not familiar with the car, the electric Prius is basically the same set-up as the standard Prius hybrid, but can also drive about 11 miles on electricity (in blended mode according to the EPA) thanks to a larger electric motor, and a a 4.4 kWh lithium battery pack. The Prius PHV has a MPGe rating of 95.
The car does has some limitations, as the electric drive can not maintain speeds of over 62 mph, and can not be driven aggressively with hopes to stay solely powered by electricity. However, the Prius is a hybrid first, and an EV second; so it that regard, these infractions are forgivable.
For 2012, Toyota sold 12,750 copies of it plug-in, and Toyota Division Group Vice President Bill Fay (in an interview with Ward’s Auto) says that they company hopes to match that figure with 12,000-13,000 new sales in 2013, even if that means some heavier discounting…within reason.
“I don’t know that we have to necessarily go around and match everybody. But I think we have to be cognizant of the world those shoppers are operating in…and we have to be sure we offer the same kind of value when they go to buy the vehicle.”
Current Prius PHV deals (according to Wards) can be very regional, with some areas (like New York) offering up to $6,500 of 2012s, and $4,650 of 2013s, while in southern California, only a $1,650 discount can be had. The Toyota Prius PHV base price starts at $32,000 and can be leased as low as $229 for 36 months with $1,999 down, or financed at 0% for 60 months.
Bill Fay says that up until recently, the bulk of Toyota PHV purchases have been purchases, a trend not seen in other vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF that are heavily skewed to leasing.
This bias to purchasing over leasing may be due to the plug-in Prius’ smaller Federal government spiff of $2,500, as compared to $7,500 for vehicles with batteries 16 kWh or greater. These credits generally can be taken as a stright cap-cost reduction on leases at point of sale, making competitors lease rates more attractive.
Still, Mr. Fay thinks that “…in the long run it’s going to be a good lease vehicle.”
It should be noted that by hoping to achieve 12,000 to 13,000 Prius PHV sales in 2013, Toyota is actually predicting to sell less cars on the average in 2013 than 2012, as the 2012 plug-in Prius was introduced late in the first quarter of 2012.
With these lower year-over year projections, it seems like Toyota maybe realizing that the extended range competition has gotten a lot fiercer for 2013; with not only the Chevrolet Volt eating at Prius PHV sales, but also the likes of the Ford C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi.