Prius Ditches Waiting List, Offers Incentives

While Toyota's hybrid-electric Prius has been practically selling itself, with more buyers than Toyota has cars, sales have evened out just as the carmaker is able to boost production, according to the New York Times.

So, starting in April, Toyota will be showcasing the Prius in its first advertising campaign since the hybrid was introduced to the U.S. in 2000.

Hybrid-huggers can also look forward to incentives on the Prius—another first—including some no-interest financing and lease deals of as low as $219 per month. What a difference four months makes. When gas prices spiked above $3 a gallon last October, Toyota had only a three-hour inventory of Prius cars, says James D. Farley, Toyota vice president of North American marketing. Then, as gas prices dropped, inventories climbed to a 30-day supply in January. Confusion about hybrid technology, along with the usual doubts of whether you'll really save enough on gas to make shelling out all that extra cabbage worthwhile, also resurfaced.

From the New York Times:

The situation is of particular concern now that Toyota can build more Priuses, which had been produced in limited numbers in Japan. Speaking at the Chicago Auto Show, Mr. Farley said Toyota might be able to get as many as 170,000 Priuses to sell in the United States this year, a potential increase of 70 percent.

But to reach that level, Toyota needs to do more to generate demand. "This is the challenge that keeps me up at night about Prius," Mr. Farley said.

Another concern that will have Farley reaching for the Ambien by year's end: The EPA's new fuel economy ratings are set, on many vehicles, to fall by about 10 to 25 percent. Mileage ratings for hybrid electric vehicles will drop the most, by about 30 percent, from the current rated 60 miles per gallon in city driving to about mid-40 miles per gallon. ::NYT

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