Comparing Early Criticism of Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt

By · March 14, 2012

Chevy Volt

Will the Chevy Volt's sales volumes follow the exponential growth curve similar to the Toyota Prius?

How's the Chevrolet Volt similar to the original Toyota Prius that debuted in the US back in 2000? A dozen years ago, the Prius was considered by some to be a revolutionary vehicle, years ahead of its time. However, critics said the Prius was so strange or extreme or ugly or whatever, that it would forever be a flop. Fast forward to today. Some 2.5 million-plus sales later, the Toyota Prius is considered a major success, that has spawned an entire family of vehicles.

In the early days, the Prius was the subject of intense debate and ridicule, much the way the Chevy Volt is today. Daily Finance turned up some quotes worth reviewing:

1: "With most subsidies, the government pays someone to produce something that no one wants to buy. But what happens when the government pays people to buy something that no one wants to produce?"

2: "Taxpayers are rightly grumpy about ponying up a ... subsidy on a car that is generally priced around [no clues!]. People who will spend [that much] for a small four-passenger car don't need a subsidy."

3: "It is not, repeat, not the wave of the future. It's just too impractical for a large number of everyday drivers."

4: "Obviously, these cars can't achieve profitability under any reasonable sales projections."

5: "News stories about the popularity of these vehicles simply aren't true. There's a waiting list ... but that's because [Automaker X] will only ship 12,000."

6: "Taxpayers and corporations can't prop up this flop forever. ... management should end the misery before being told off by the voters, the markets and its own technology."

Toyota Prius sales chart

Sales of the Toyota Prius started off slow, but grew exponentially as the years went by. The release of the second-generation Prius, and a rise in gas prices, were a major turning point.

So, which quotes apply to the Toyota Prius and which are slams of the Chevy Volt? Quotes number one, four and five—all directed at knocking the Toyota Prius—are attributed to the Cato Institute back in 2001. The remaining quotes, also attributed to the Cato Institute, were published in recent editorials slamming the Chevy Volt.

The success of the Toyota Prius proves that Cato Institute was premature in declaring the death of a new high-tech green car. The potential future success of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, including the Chevy Volt, could again prove naysayers wrong.

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