Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., has just slightly raised the price of its Prius hybrid in an attempt no doubt to raise revenues as the Japanese Yen remains strong. Year to date the Japanese-produced Prius has posted sales of 91,940 units, down from 93,810 in 2009.
Sales in August 2010, the most recent reporting period, plummeted 35%, as gasoline prices remained relatively low and down significantly from their record $4 a squirt highs in the U.S. Some of the drastic drop in sales was due to the end of the taxpayer subsidized “cash for clunkers” program, which was in effect a year ago.
After ten years of sales in the U.S., the latest generation Prius will now have a Manufactures’ Suggested Retail Price Range (MSRP) of $23,050 for the Prius Two model to $28,320 for the Prius Five model, an increase of $250. MSRP excludes shipping and deliver charges of almost $1,000. The relative restraint used in the increase demonstrates how weak the market remains, as well as Toyota’s tenuous position in it. Nonetheless the increase is worth somewhere between $25 and $50 million in increased revenues at a time when Toyota’s post recall marketing costs remain high.
The Toyota Prius leads the market for hybrid automobiles that it started more than a decade ago. With its 50-MPG fuel economy rating, Prius is the most fuel-efficient passenger car available in the U.S. – a spot once occupied by Honda. Prius’ fuel economy comes in what’s dubbed a 5-passenger midsize car by the EPA. Toyota has sold 880,000 Prius models in the U.S. since 2000.