Thursday, January 12, 2012

Toyota Lifts Veil on Prius Vehicle Family; Prius C(ity) Will Have MSRP Below $19,000

The Prius in its prior incarnations have sold more than 1 million vehicles since it was launched. Toyota has dominated the hybrid vehicle line, all while other manufacturers, including Honda, have been unable to break through with vehicles that rely on hybrid technologies.

Now, Toyota is expanding the Prius line to include the C(ity), to go along with the V(ersatility) and the Liftback, which is the Prius everyone has come to know as the Prius. A plug-in Prius will be announced shortly, but the buzz is that the C will have a price tag starting under $19,000 all while getting 50 mpg.

The 4-door hatchback has its sights set upon the small car market, which includes the Corolla stablemate and other small cars, and its higher initial cost would be offset by the great gas mileage it should get in the city.

The Corolla, which ranges from $15,900 to $18,600, would have higher fuel costs than a Prius C, which makes the Prius C a better value over the life of the car if they have comparable carrying capabilities.

Toyota will be able to leverage the goodwill and know-how created by the Prius experience to make an entire line that's devoted to hybrid and plug-in technologies. Since most people are familiar with the Prius badge, it will make it easier to gain acceptance of these new vehicles in the line.

However, one has to wonder whether Toyota will be able to regain its footing after the disastrous Japanese quake last year and quality control problems that resulted in multiple recalls in the past two years (although NASA found that the unanticipated acceleration issue was due to operator error, and not due to electrical or mechanical failures by the vehicle components).

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