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straight cash homie
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
http://www.wsj.com/articles/toyotas-prius-pays-price-for-cheap-gasoline-1473149470
Lower gasoline prices and lower consumer interest in hybrids are hitting Prius sales in the U.S.

TOKYO— Toyota Motor Corp. ’s latest Prius hybrid has a problem: gasoline prices.

When the Prius first went on the U.S. market in the late 1990s, it was a hit among celebrities like actor Leonardo DiCaprio who flaunted their environmental bona fides with the hybrid gas-electric car.

The latest version, which hit roads in December last year, is more fuel-efficient than ever, getting 54 miles to the gallon. In Toyota’s home market of Japan, it tops the sales charts. But sales are down in the U.S., as cheap gasoline dent the car maker’s strategy of presenting itself as the leader of an environmentally-friendly future—with the Prius as the vanguard.

U.S. sales of the Prius are down 26% this year through August.


At Longo Toyota in El Monte, Calif., the largest Toyota dealership in the U.S. by volume, Prius sales have fallen by 11% compared with last year. “But that’s not because of the car,” said Brendan Harrington, Longo Toyota’s president. “The entire market has dramatically shifted to light trucks and SUVs with gas under $3 a gallon.”

Americans are now more likely to trade in a hybrid or an electric vehicle for an SUV than they are another hybrid or electric vehicle, according a survey conducted by automotive research firm Edmunds.com in April.

“There is a direct correlation in the price of gasoline and the interest of consumers in hybrids,” said Brian Maas, head of the California New Car Dealers Association, which represents over 1,000 dealers in the biggest U.S. market for the Prius. “When gas was $4 [a gallon], the Prius was No. 1. Gas is $2.50,” Mr. Maas said.

It is especially frustrating for Toyota because its strategy is generally a success in Japan. Through August, the new Prius and a smaller related model—called Aqua in Japan and the Prius c in the U.S.—sold 304,000 units in Japan, tops in the nation and three times the U.S. sales even though the U.S. car market is far bigger.

One reason is higher gasoline taxes, which make the price of a gallon of gas in Japan around $4.50.

“The sense of value is different in the U.S. and Japan toward eco-friendly cars,” said Hisashi Nakai, head of Toyota’s technology communications group. In the U.S., people want larger cars because they drive more, he said, while in Japan, “hybrids sell well regardless of the gas prices.”

Despite fuel efficiency improvements and reduced hybrid system costs, global Toyota hybrid sales are slowing after having peaked at around 1.3 million units in 2013.

Toyota’s U.S. August sales were down 5% in a month where rivals General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. saw their sales fall more sharply.

Toyota isn’t the only manufacturer facing difficulties selling hybrids in the U.S. Sales of Nissan Motor Co.’s Leaf electric car are off 36% this year through August. Sales for the vehicles overall are down 14.4% for the year, according to Hybridcars.com and market-research firm Baum and Associates.

The weak market for hybrids and electric cars, except from Tesla Motors Inc., also doesn’t bode well for GM’s fourth quarter launch of its Chevrolet Bolt electric car.

Still, even accounting for the overall decline in the market, Prius sales are sputtering in the U.S. Sales of the flagship Prius sedan are down 9.6% for the year, compared with a 50% decline for the seven-seater Prius v and a 45% decline in sales for the Prius c.

Toyota is trying to compensate for the shift in consumer tastes by selling more pickup trucks, but the factories that produce those vehicles are running out of space. The company builds Tacoma and Tundra trucks at factories in San Antonio, Texas, and Baja California in Mexico.

“The San Antonio factory is the most capacity-constrained Toyota factory in the world,” said Christopher Richter, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at brokerage firm CLSA.

Toyota’s Mr. Nakai said the company believes that eventually Americans will want to buy the same cars as its Japanese customers, pointing to U.S. government efforts to tighten fuel emissions standards.

But even in Japan, fuel efficiency alone isn’t enough to move cars off the lot anymore.

Despite the Prius’ position in Japan, “our honest feeling is that it could have sold better,” said Yasutomo Kato, head of new car sales promotion at Toyota dealer Tokyo Toyopet. It wasn’t until Toyopet focused its Prius sales pitch on new safety technologies like automatic braking and collision warning sensors that buying started to pick up, Mr. Kato said.

Toyota’s Prius is partly a victim of its own success. These days there are plenty of hybrids and other environmentally friendly cars from rivals, including all-electric models from Tesla. Toyota sells a hybrid Camry and RAV 4 SUV, and for those who want to show off the latest technology it has the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai sedan.

Despite last year’s redesign which gave the Prius a sportier profile—Toyota calls the car “daring” and “edgy” in its brochure—some say it is starting to look a little dated.

“The Prius is a great concept, but Toyota has really put more energy in to the mechanics of the hybrid vehicle rather than the styling,” said Chris Redl, who runs the Japan-focused hedge fund Siena Carnico Capital LLC.

“The people with money buy a Tesla,” he said.
Doing fine at home, but the USA don't want its MPG...
 

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Newbie One Kanobi
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Well obviously its more popular in Japan. It costs more to even have a car in that country. Where space and resources are finite. But I will contest part it is the car. Its fugly!!!! Also with more "affordable" electrics from Nissan (future Leaf) and Chevy Bolt that will give the Prius a run for its money. Sure we're not at the infrastructure of electrics becoming mainstream but on our way. Also the extended range Volt is a lot better than the previous gen. So you got that. But yeah CUVs are the name of the game for now.
 

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This weekend I went on a small trip - 4 car guys in one car.....

I pointed out the new prius.... nobody had anything good to say about how it looked... one even described it as "a whale with down syndrome".

While truck and SUV sales are up - I can't imagine that all other hybrid models for other makers are taking the same hit the Prius is. It's just ugly.

Further - with the lower gas prices and the government incentives to buy them - the false market is revealing itself.
 

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^^
Agreed. I don't care how much gasoline is or isn't. an ugly car isn't going to sell well. The white interior panels on a higher end model are nasty, and everything else is just UGH!!!!!!

The biggest problem isn't the cost of gas. The Prius is going the same way the iphone is going. It's not much better, it's getting uglier, and it's only riding on it's name at this point. They need to make it look better, plain and simple.
 

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straight cash homie
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
^^
Agreed. I don't care how much gasoline is or isn't. an ugly car isn't going to sell well. The white interior panels on a higher end model are nasty, and everything else is just UGH!!!!!!

The biggest problem isn't the cost of gas. The Prius is going the same way the iphone is going. It's not much better, it's getting uglier, and it's only riding on it's name at this point. They need to make it look better, plain and simple.
Does the Prius Prime alleviate some of the ugliness? I was able to get upfront close with a Hyundai Ioniq, which also isn't even on the market yet too, and its looks are like the past two Prius. Even if it doesn't look "stylish", it isn't ugly. If Prius is pushing ugly, it makes the job for Chevy and other competitors much easier because the Prius novelty is almost all but gone because the hip green car is the Tesla.


 

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ALSO AVAILABLE IN SOBER
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Overly complex electronics designed to eek out a few more MPG simply aren't a needed item here in the land of wide open spaces and cheap gas.

Thank goodness.
 

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Does the Prius Prime alleviate some of the ugliness?


The Prime looks 100 times better then the current Prius on the Road. I'm still not liking the quarters. The quarter panel flare looks out of place and thats an issue for me as well, but those tail lamps and rear end look much better IMO.

Styling is 100% objective and I think the current model is ass-ugly. The prime looks a LOT better.....IMO.
 

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Newbie One Kanobi
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^^Yeah overall not too bad I guess. Better than the regular Prius.
I've never seen gas prices 'stabilize" this much. At least for these last few months. Meaning staying around 2-2.30 dollars at least in MN. But I'm just waiting for it to shoot up.
 

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A lot of cars built these past few years are ugly. Though Prius seldom fails to show up on "ugliest cars" lists, it is nowhere near as bad as it gets.
SUVs are seldom on such lists, unless it is the Pontiac Aztec...

It seems to me like people are being led around by the noses. Right now, $2 a gallon is "about normal" for today's dollar value. It seems cheap of course. So, people go out and buy these huge trucks or SUVs or whatever monstrosity. When gas DOES shoot up though, they bitch about paying $100. Don't they realize that the stable gas price won't last? Even when gas is low, it is still gonna cost to drive the things.

Sense of power? They still have to obey the same traffic laws which apply to everything from a humvee to a smart car.
 

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straight cash homie
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
A lot of cars built these past few years are ugly. Though Prius seldom fails to show up on "ugliest cars" lists, it is nowhere near as bad as it gets.
SUVs are seldom on such lists, unless it is the Pontiac Aztec...
The new Prius is probably the most "stylistic" in a way, meaning it has deviated from the usual cookie cutter design that permeated the first three cars. But honestly, the styling of the new one is controversial. Doesn't help when the gas prices are that low either.

It seems to me like people are being led around by the noses. Right now, $2 a gallon is "about normal" for today's dollar value. It seems cheap of course. So, people go out and buy these huge trucks or SUVs or whatever monstrosity. When gas DOES shoot up though, they bitch about paying $100. Don't they realize that the stable gas price won't last? Even when gas is low, it is still gonna cost to drive the things.
Because culture, 'Murica.
 

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A lot of cars built these past few years are ugly. Though Prius seldom fails to show up on "ugliest cars" lists, it is nowhere near as bad as it gets.
SUVs are seldom on such lists, unless it is the Pontiac Aztec...

It seems to me like people are being led around by the noses. Right now, $2 a gallon is "about normal" for today's dollar value. It seems cheap of course. So, people go out and buy these huge trucks or SUVs or whatever monstrosity. When gas DOES shoot up though, they bitch about paying $100. Don't they realize that the stable gas price won't last? Even when gas is low, it is still gonna cost to drive the things.

Sense of power? They still have to obey the same traffic laws which apply to everything from a humvee to a smart car.
SUV's aren't generally seen as ugly because, although styling is injected, there isn't a whole lot to change about a vehicle that's been pretty constant in looks for 50 years. The SUV, or "monstrosity" as you call it, has been around for quite a bit of time because they are a useful vehicle. The Aztec is ugly because it deviated from the psuedo norm, and basically took the cues of a Honda CRV and tried to plump it up. It just didn't work.

We have a Prius C. It neither pays the excess cost vs a cheap non hybrid vehicle nor is it all that useful when you have 1 dog, 2 adults and anything much to carry.

Further - my "monstrosity" 1993 Land Cruiser that gets 12mpg is over 300k miles with no indication of ending any time soon. The negative impacts of buying a new vehicle vs keeping one on the road (and not having to worry about recycling, what can't/doesn't get recycled, or disposal of other toxins) has more than made the Cruiser a worthwhile vehicle. If you disagree, we also have an over 300K mile 1988 Corolla Alltrac... which will also blow the long term "environmental" impacts of continually buying new.

The new Prius is ugly because it's ugly. The styling lines don't look right and the proportions are off.

Gas prices are more dependent on the BS political agendas than any true supply/demand market.
 
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