According to the LA Times Toyota will be dropping the price of its 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid by a little over $2,000. The 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in retailed for $32,000, which means that the price point of the 2014 will be just squeaking in at under $30,000.
The Prius Plug-in is an odd duck compared to the other all-electric drive vehicles out there. While Toyota was first to get ahead of the pack with efficiency, designing a gas-powered car that could get 50 miles to the gallon, the Prius Plug-in seems to miss some of the appeal driving sales of vehicles like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla Volt. The Leaf, and many of the all-electrics like it, can get around 80 miles on a charge for a price that is not that much different than the Prius. The Volt gets hundreds of miles on a charge. The Prius, however, can only go 11 miles on it’s battery-only charge. And it can’t go faster than 62 miles an hour during those 11 miles.
Where the Prius has them beat is that it can motor on at 50 MPG for hundreds of miles before being quickly refilled. Which means that the Prius’s natural competitor is the Chevy Volt. But when you compare the Volt to the Prius, the Volt’s 35-40 miles on a single charge before the ‘range extender’ gas engine kicks in suddenly looks way more appealing. You can imagine driving somewhere and back in a Volt. In the Prius, you’re pretty much knowing you’ll need that gas engine.
Sure it’s efficient, but for many buyers, the point of the plug-in is to get more than 11 miles of all electric drive. As a result, the Prius is not nearly as compelling.
Sure enough, while regular Prius sales are in the hundreds of thousands, only 8,000 Prius Plug-ins have sold.
Toyota might need to focus less on lowering the price, and more on raising the all-electric range, to make it compelling.