Toyota Says Discounts Are Necessary to Sell Its Plug-Ins

By · March 04, 2013

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Toyota Division Group Vice President Bill Fay told Wards Auto that dealership incentives on the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will continue to be necessary for the company to keep pace with last year’s sales figures. The automaker sold 12,750 Prius PHEVs in 2012. “I don’t know that we have to necessarily go around and match everybody,” he said, referring to Toyota discounts intended to make plug-in cars competitive with gas-powered vehicles. “But we have to be sure we offer the same kind of value when they go to buy the vehicle.”

The 2013 Prius Plug-in Hybrid base model can be leased for $229 a month for 36 months until April 1, and lessees are eligible for $4,650 bonus cash, according to buyatoyota.com, the website of U.S. Toyota dealer associations.

The 2013 Prius plug-in starts at $32,000 for the base model. Trim levels with amenities such as LED headlights, navigation and heads-up display can push the price to $39,525.

According to Wards, dealer discounts on the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid in Manhattan are as high as $6,500—and $4,650 off a 2013 model. Meanwhile, rebates are minimal for other non-plug Prius models, suggesting that dealerships are having an easier time selling those models. And in California, where solo drivers of the Prius PHEV are granted access to carpool lanes, cash rebates are more modest at about $1,650.

In December, we reported on deeply discounted prices on the Toyota RAV4 EV, which were in effect until January 7, 2013, according to buyatoyota.com. Though subject to limited availability (the RAV4 EV is only sold in California), Toyota RAV4 EV buyers received Toyota's $5,000 cash back offer with 0 percent financing. In addition, Toyota was offering $2,500 in loyalty cash. For example, in California, a RAV4 EV buyer who took advantage of all of the available discounts could purchase the all-electric crossover for as low as $32,300—That's a reduction of $17,500 off the RAV4 EV's base MSRP of $49,800.

Historically, Toyota executives have viewed conventional hybrids as the key mainstream offering for green car buyers, and have questioned the market viability of more expensive battery-powered vehicles with larger batteries.

The discounted prices anticipate what sticker prices will eventually be for plug-in vehicles, as battery costs are reduced and economies of scale are achieved. For now, the incentives are good news for today's car buyers wanting a car that uses grid-supplied electricity as fuel.

Comments

· · 1 year ago

Brad,

You really should have updated your figures on the RAV4 EV before publishing this story. The current Toyota promotional offer in Southern California is 0% Financing for 60 months with $10,000 customer cash applied to down payment. This offer ends today, 3/4/13. I'm sure they will renew it with a similar offer. The customer cash amount has only increased each time it has expired so far. In fact, the $10,000 offer was initiated even before the $7,500 offer expired. For some reason, the Northern California promotion amount is only $8,800 through 4/1/13, up from $7,000 previously.

· · 1 year ago

This is b/c Prius Plugin is THE worst Plugin cars out there with the LEAST amount of EV miles and LEAST capable EV mode. Why bother with it when you can just get a regular Prius? Those short EV miles are useless in real world. it is NOTHING more than an EV boost to its hybrid powertrain while it degrades the regular Prius's performance, handling and SAFETY. It is rated 1 star lower than the regular Prius.

We should find out who is actually buying the Prius Plugin. I am willing to be that > 60% of the all existing Prius Plugin buyers are all former Prius owners. It is NOTHING more than a way for Toyota to scam the EPA rating and trying to retain the Prius market by appealing to the existiing Prius owners. It is totally a "green" scam by the Toyota who has NO intention of ever giving up its synergy drive and embrace the Electric revolution.

· · 1 year ago

MMF,

Agreed. PIP is only recommended for buyers that like the standard Prius and the Green HOV sticker is valuable to them. As Brad said, this is why Toyota has to put less cash on the hood in California compared to New York.

· · 1 year ago

I can agree with a small part of Modern Marvel's comments: I AM a prior Prius owner as well as a very satisfied Toyota plug-in owner. I was getting about 45 mpg with my 2007 Prius (less in winter, with winter tires and oxygenated fuel). I sold it (at 100,000 miles) to buy a plug-in Prius hybrid. I work about 7.5 miles from home. I can drive to and fom work without recharging and get within about a mile from home before I have to use the hybrid system. If I can find a place to plug in downtown,I use very little gas. Obviously, the difference is far less dramatic when you take longer trips, but then that difference is even more pronounced for the Volt, and the full EVs aren't really able to handle the 500 mile per day trip yet, either, other than perhaps the Tesla. For my driving, though, the plug-in has worked really well, and nearly doubled my MPG. I have no complaints, and I'm subsidizing Saudi Arabia and other oil exporting dictatorships far less than before.

· · 1 year ago

@Shelterdogg

How RIGHT you are. The PIP may be a somewhat weak EV, but since the BRAND is so popular, just having one on the street in the neighborhood is going to almost guarantee your neighbors are going to look at PIPs, Volts, Spark EVs, Smart42EV, Leaf, Ford CMAX or FFEV, ELRs. The car is a good Ambassador for the gas driving public to get their feet wet with EV life. Once they see how easy it is to plug into the 110 outlet every day, soon many more will want to take a chance on an EV.

· · 1 year ago

@Shelterdogg,

Okay, PIP certainly has its place, especially for people who have very short commute and then drive a long range for number of times per year.

I would have supported it more if its EV mode are more "real". 62mph cap is silly. Also, its EV mode is so WEAK that you can get the gas engine to fire up even leaving the parking lot fast... Also, any attempt of using heat (even when the weather is 50 deg outside), it will fire up the ICE. So, for some of the colder and short trips, you have to use gas anyway. Sure, all PHEV/EREV starts the engine during extreme heat, but that is just there to protect the battery. But most of them will operate some kind of electric heat for short trip. But PIP doesn't give you any if any kind of heat is required...

If PIP had a REAL all EV mode like the Volt for 10 miles, I would have supported it more. But it doesn't...

It does have a "plug", which is good thing...

· · 1 year ago

"Sure, all PHEV/EREV starts the engine during extreme heat,"

I meant to say that "Sure, all PHEV/EREV starts the engine during extreme cold with extreme heat requirement".

· · 1 year ago

This is a timely article. I was very tempted to upgrade my 2010 Insight to a PiP, and there was a very attractive offer (in NYS at least) which expired today. I don't really need to upgrade the car, so I didn't bite. But it sounds like Toyota realizes the PiP is slightly overpriced. Ok, more than slightly...it should be less than the CMax Energi, not more!

Like Shelterdogg, I'm another case where the PiP makes a lot of sense. My commute is 4.5 miles round trip, but I frequently (once or twice a month) drive 200-300 miles one-way. For the commute, I don't mind running without heat, so long as I have heated seats. My Insight doesn't start blowing warm air at me until I'm pulling into the parking lot at work. I've run the numbers, and of all the cars on the market (including Volt, Energis and traditional hybrids), replacing my Insight with a PiP would result in the least amount of gasoline used in a typical year. But our case is not "typical" necessarily. But nor is the "average" scenario. Most people are far from average in one way or another.

I for one am glad that the PiP is available, as-is. The key is having more options available, and letting the consumers choose what works best for them.

· · 1 year ago

>>>$10,000 customer cash applied to down payment. This offer ends today, 3/4/13<<<<

Mike,

That offer was extended to April 1, 2013.

Tony
Rav4 EV driver

· · 1 year ago

Well if you had put a bigger battery in there then you would have received a bigger incentive from the government. Duh.

That was your bad move, Toyota.

· · 1 year ago

@Tony Williams,

Yes, I see the RAV4 EV $10,000 Customer Cash was extended in Southern California. However, it remains at $8,800 in Northern California, which is where I am. Grrr...

· · 1 year ago

Brian Schwerdt wrote: "My commute is 4.5 miles round trip, but I frequently (once or twice a month) drive 200-300 miles one-way".

In your case, doesn't the regular Prius makes more sense? So, your weekly commute is about 23 miles and that is 1,150 miles per YEAR. So, in a regular Prius, you would use about 23 gallons of gas for that short commute PER YEAR.

@ $4/gallon. That is a cost of less than $100 per year in your commute that you would have saved vs. PIP if you just bought a regular Prius. Of course, this is assuming that your electricity is free. (@ 5KWh per day, it would cost you only $8/yr).

So, you save $100 per year on gas, but you have to spend about $2,000 more for the Prius Plugin over the standard Prius. How does that make sense? Unless you like the fact that you saved that 23 gallons of gas.

Now, if you drive about 600 miles per month on long trips. That is 8,000 miles per yr in long trips where your PIP "should" get slightly less MPG than the regular Prius. (EPA rating lies b/c there is NO way the PIP can match the regular Prius unless the extra 150lbs weight doesn't matter. That is equal to one extra person in the car). Let us assume that it is 2% degradation in LONG TRIP MPG. That is 1miles. So, the difference in gas consumption over 8,000 miles is 3.2 gallons. So, that takes your total gas saving down to 20 gallons per year.

Now, you saved 20 gallons more per year, but you paid extra $2,000 for it AND you have a more expensive battery to replace, a worse handling/braking car and a less safe one. NOT to mention that PIP doesn't protect its battery like other BEV/PHEV. Its heating and cooling are based on the cabin temperature. So, if you don't use heat, your battery range will be even shorter and you might end up kicking up the engine on an extreme cold day anyway....

I just don't see how PIP makes sense over a regular Prius. If you drive that many short trips, then your gas usage difference is tiny anyway. That is why most PHEV figured that out and PIP has to come with a HEAVE discount except for CA where people buy it for Car-pool stickers...

· · 1 year ago

Brian Schwerdt wrote: "My commute is 4.5 miles round trip, but I frequently (once or twice a month) drive 200-300 miles one-way".

In your case, doesn't the regular Prius makes more sense? So, your weekly commute is about 23 miles and that is 1,150 miles per YEAR. So, in a regular Prius, you would use about 23 gallons of gas for that short commute PER YEAR.

@ $4/gallon. That is a cost of less than $100 per year in your commute that you would have saved vs. PIP if you just bought a regular Prius. Of course, this is assuming that your electricity is free. (@ 5KWh per day, it would cost you only $8/yr).

So, you save $100 per year on gas, but you have to spend about $2,000 more for the Prius Plugin over the standard Prius. How does that make sense? Unless you like the fact that you saved that 23 gallons of gas.

Now, if you drive about 600 miles per month on long trips. That is 8,000 miles per yr in long trips where your PIP "should" get slightly less MPG than the regular Prius. (EPA rating lies b/c there is NO way the PIP can match the regular Prius unless the extra 150lbs weight doesn't matter. That is equal to one extra person in the car). Let us assume that it is 2% degradation in LONG TRIP MPG. That is 1miles. So, the difference in gas consumption over 8,000 miles is 3.2 gallons. So, that takes your total gas saving down to 20 gallons per year.

Now, you saved 20 gallons more per year, but you paid extra $2,000 for it AND you have a more expensive battery to replace, a worse handling/braking car and a less safe one. NOT to mention that PIP doesn't protect its battery like other BEV/PHEV. Its heating and cooling are based on the cabin temperature. So, if you don't use heat, your battery range will be even shorter and you might end up kicking up the engine on an extreme cold day anyway....

I just don't see how PIP makes sense over a regular Prius. If you drive that many short trips, then your gas usage difference is tiny anyway. That is why most PHEV figured that out and PIP has to come with a HEAVE discount except for CA where people buy it for Car-pool stickers...

· · 1 year ago

@MMF,

You make a lot of valid points. In my case, I hate burning gas, plain and simple. I just don't want to ship money out of my local economy for the privilege of adding to smog-producing emissions. The PiP would burn the least amount of gas for me, therefore it is a car I have considered. The economics certainly don't work out, and that's a large part of why I'm still driving a 2010 Honda Insight (which easily gets 45-50MPG on my longer trips in the summer, around 40 in the winter).

My dislike for burning gas has pushed me to commute on a bicycle when I can. Unfortunately, even at 4.5 miles, I prefer not to ride when the temperature is below 40F or raining, which is more than half the year at 7am in Syracuse.

· · 1 year ago

ModernMarvelFan is incorrect on many levels. We evaluate cars weekly and found the plug-in Prius easily the best of all models for families. The smaller battery pack makes it much faster to recharge and the limited range meets the needs of most commuters who use the electric only when in heavy traffic or around town. The Prius can be recharged in as little as an hour in a half as well. The Volt needs much longer, but the important part is that once the Volt's battery pack is exhausted you are lucky to get 35 mpg. The Prius plug in easily maintains 65 mpg average in mixed driving. That is nearly 20 mpg over the regular Prius. The based price of the Prius plug in is also misleading. In many places owners get a $1500 rebate from the state and a tax credit of $2500 from the federal government. This brings the price down below the Prius 5, which also does not qualify for the coveted high occupancy lane sticker in some states. As I wrote previously, we test EVERY hybrid and most all other vehicles and actually leased this Prius version. And you might want to be aware of the fact a few decades ago we bought the first Lexus sold in the nation and about ten years after that the first LS so we are well aware of quality as well. And, we also own the Tidal Force electric bike that is still unmatched after ten years for features and reliability. The bottom line, if you don't do high speed driving daily the Plug in Prius is well worth considering.

· · 1 year ago

@freeal

To each their own. I have a Volt with almost 17k miles on it and my MPG is 232. So 65 MPG sound like a bad dream to me. You're correct that the Volt has a lower gas only MPG, but the point is you're hopefully not using it as much. If you're a travelling sales person than the Prius makes sense, otherwise the Volt will almost always get better MPG.

· · 1 year ago

@freeal,

"The smaller battery pack makes it much faster to recharge"

Biggest BS ever. Size has NOTHING to do with it. PIP come with the standard 3.3KW charger so its charging speed is EXACTLY the same as other plugins and in this case same as the Volt. To show you the math that the amount of time to get 11 miles is exactly the same as other cars with 3.3KW charger. "full charge" is meaningless when your full charge is TINY and useless in cold. Volt will take exactly 1.5 hours like your PIP to get exact 11 miles. In fact, Volt's 11 mile is REAL and your PIP's 11 miles is "fake" since you can't stay in if you drive faster than 62 miles, hard acceleration or USE ANY KIND OF HEAT even when it is only 40 degree outside.

"but the important part is that once the Volt's battery pack is exhausted you are lucky to get 35 mpg. The Prius plug in easily maintains 65 mpg average in mixed driving. That is nearly 20 mpg over the regular Prius"

Another BIGGEST LOAD OF BS ever. I consistenly get over 40MPG with my high speed driving. My coworker averaged exactly 40mpg over the trip from SF to LV with an average speed of 71 mph. My other co-worker averaged 46MPG over her trip to Seattle from SF but she drives a bit slower with only 55 mph average speed.

PIP's extended range is NO WHERE near 65mpg. That is ONLY true if you drive average 25mph. In the hwy and during my weekly testing of the PIP. I got only 43 mpg with my driving style, excluding electricity.

My Volt currently has over 13,500 miles and only 101 gallon of gas used. Try that with your PIP. Your PIP can't have pure EV miles when heat is on.... nuff said.

· · 1 year ago

@theflew,

"If you're a travelling sales person than the Prius makes sense, otherwise the Volt will almost always get better MPG"

Exactly! I totally agree. That is why I have said that if the gas mileage is what you need, then buy a regular Prius. Why bother with the "fake" Plugin Prius?

The Prius Plugin has extra weight, 150lbs more than the regular Prius. So, its MPG will suffer. That is simiar to carrying an extra adult. Long range MPG will be lower in the PIP as well.

Unless you do daily drive less than 5 miles in a really mild weather and mostly local driving, it really doesn't make sense. And the amount of gas that you save over a regular Prius is less than 1 tank per year. At that point, you are paying extra for something that is heavier, handles worse, brake worse and have worse acceleration than a regular Prius.

Also, to calculate Prius Plugin's true Gas MPG, you need to do the math yourself instead of relying on PIP's onboard "lier computer". B/c they over report it by 9%. If you can the 65mpg in a PIP with gas only, then you should be able to do the same trip at 70mpg in a regular Prius. Of course, we all know that 65mpg is a "lie" since it includes electricity charges. Of course, that is possible in a small stretch of downhill but certainly NOT possible in hwy speed of 65mph cruising.

· · 1 year ago

admitted newbie but took advantage of the recent discount to buy the PIP and couldn't be happier. Like Brian my situation has me driving 10mile or less round trips each day - actually 3-4 of those so no way is a regular Prius a better choice.
So far 90% EV mode and I know its correct because I'm not even close to needed gas after hundreds of miles. I live in the northeast, its hilly and average temp was close to freezing last month.
There's a definite place for these cars

· · 1 year ago

toyota did not really stretch to make this thing, did they?
Added a juice port and on-board charger.
Reworked the software.

get MAYBE 11 miles of no gas.

LOL!

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