Faced with slow sales and falling gas prices, Toyota announced Wednesday that it is dropping the base price of the 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid by $2,010 to $29,990, which does not include destination fees. The price of the top-of-the-line Advanced model sees a $4,620 drop to $34,905.
“Toyota is the latest manufacturer to slash pricing on a plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle,” says Alex Gutierrez, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, “a clear indication pricing in this space remains out of reach for most consumers.” Earlier this year, we reported price drops on the 2013 Nissan Leaf and the 2014 Chevrolet Volt.
Falling gas prices may be another factor affecting the sales of super-efficient cars like the Prius Plug-in, Volt and Leaf. We reported earlier this week that lower gas prices are corresponding with sinking hybrid sales. For example, sales of all Toyota Prius models (including the Prius, Prius c, Prius V and Prius Plug-in) were down more than 16 percent in September compared with the previous year. Conversely, sales of large SUVs and full-size pickup trucks are up. Ford saw September F-Series sales jump 9.8 percent compared with last year, although some of that increase may also be due to a warming economy.
As for the sales prospects of the now less-expensive Prius Plug-in, Gutierrez says, “Even at $30,000 or below, manufacturers will find it difficult to attract buyers, especially with gas prices trending downward and gas-powered vehicles becoming more fuel-efficient than ever before.” He anticipates a slight uptick in sales for the Prius Plug-in, but expects shoppers concerned about fuel economy and price to steer toward vehicles like the 2014 Toyota Corolla, which delivers an EPA-estimated 29/38 mpg city/highway for less than $20,000.
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