In a follow-up to my post on hybrid car sales in October, I noticed this article in the USAToday touting how buyers no longer have to wait for their Prius. It seems the turnover rate on Toyotas lots for the Prius have increased from 5 or 6 days up to 17 days (the average lot time is 64 days). And Chris Woodyard is thinking along the same lines as I am: Namely the reason the demand was down this past month was 1) lower gas prices, 2) lower federal tax credits (for Toyota/Lexus) and 3) more hybrid cars are available.
Now we just need to adopt a wait and see what happens this coming month to see if we have a trend or if we have a 'hiccup.'
Woodyard points out that the increased lot time may be due to increased production, as the Toyota Camry hybrid is now being built in the US, letting Toyota increase the production of the Prius in Japan. Toyota now expects to import 122,590 Priuses this year, not 110,000 as predicted.
Prius finally available without a wait - USATODAY.com
Through October, Toyota had sold 89,672 Pruises in the USA. Production levels tumbled earlier this year as the same plant ramped up for the start of Camry hybrids. Prius sales fell 12% last month in the USA, although they are down only 1.4% for the year, Autodata reports. Slowing demand:
• Reduced tax credits. On Oct. 1, the $3,150 federal income tax credit for buying a Prius was cut in half. On April 1, the subsidy will be halved again.
• Lower gasoline prices. Gas prices have fallen from an August peak of $3.038 a gallon to $2.218 last week, the Energy Information Administration reports. That doesn't help sales of cars at the top of gas mileage charts. Prius has an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 60 miles a gallon in city driving.
• Increased competition. Automakers are adding a growing list of hybrid models. Besides Camry, Toyota offers hybrids in its Lexus line. Prius also faces off against a newer Honda Civic model and Nissan's first hybrid, an Altima.