I know, I know. SUV’s, crossovers, and pickup trucks are flying off dealer lots in record numbers. Nationwide, average fuel economy is down as people gravitate toward larger, thirstier vehicles in this era of low gas prices. You might think people don’t car that much about gas mileage any more, but you would be wrong.
Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid
There’s been a trend of automakers slashing the price of their plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles as consumer interest in saving gas money grows. Toyota has finally got on the price-cutting train, cutting up to $4,600 from the price of the top-trim Prius Plug-In. But is that enough to help what have thus far been tepid sales?
It’s not that the Toyota Prius Plug-In hasn’t been selling; Toyota sold about 12,500 Prius Plug-Ins last year, only just missing their goal of 15,000 units. But through September of 2013, fewer than 8,000 Prius Plug-Ins have left dealer lots, making it unlikely that Toyota will exceed 2012 sales levels unless the hybrid gets a big boost.
That boost comes in the form of a $2,010 price cut off the cheapest Prius Plug-In model, dropping the MSRP to $29,990, as well as being eligible for a $2,500 Federal tax credit, dropping the effective price to $27,490. The top-trim Prius Plug-In Advanced, meanwhile, gets a $4,600 price cut, bringing the MSRP down to $34,905; with the $2,500 tax credit the price drops to $32,405.
The Toyota Prius Plug-In offers an all-electric driving range of just 11 miles, however, which is only one-third of the driving range of the segment-leading Chevy Volt. Ford’s one-two combo of the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi is also outpacing sales of the Toyota, which many thought would take a commanding lead in the growing market for plug-in hybrids. With the competition having already slashed prices on EVs and plug-in hybrids though, are Toyota’s efforts too little, too late?
Is this price cut enough to get Toyota back in the running, or is this the first chink in the armor of the once-indomitable Prius brand of hybrids?
Source: Toyota | Image: Tom Raftery
Ford has declared war on the Toyota Prius family of hybrid vehicles, and its latest weapon in the war of fuel efficiency is the C-Max Hybrid. The Blue Oval has every reason to feel confident too; during its first full month of sales, the Ford C-Max Hybrid outsold the Toyota Prius V. Is the Prius brand losing its luster?
Ford C-Max Hybrid sales hit 3,182 cars to the Prius V’s 2,769, with about 70% of those buyers being new to the brand. Ford also reported that about one-third of C-Max Hybrid buyers had cross shopped the C-Max with the Prius and Prius V.
Those “conquest” numbers are especially important, as the new car market in America has matured to the point where the only way to expand sales is to conquer buyers from other brands. With a 47/47/47 mpg rating, the C-Max Hybrid compares favorably to the Prius V, which is rated at 44 city, 40 highway, and 42 combined. I think it is also fair to acknowledge that there is quite a bit of pent-up demand for this vehicle, which Ford has been hyping up for over a year.
One thing I wonder though is about sales of the Ford C-Max Energi. Are those included in the C-Max Hybrid sales, or is Ford’s first plug-in hybrid. The Prius Plug-In has already sold over 6,000 units in its first six months. With Ford launching a 47 mpg 2013 Fusion Hybrid, Ford is competing with the Toyota Prius on all fronts. How will the numbers tack up a year from now?
Is the Prius brand coasting? Will Ford usurp Toyota’s hybrid crown? Or is this just one battle in the fuel economy war that Ford happens to be winning?