The hybrid wars are intensifying this year, even as the market for hybrids shrinks.
Edmunds Inside Line reports, "The 2010 Toyota Prius will start at $22,750, including a $750 destination charge, when it goes on sale in late May. This is the first official confirmation from the Japanese automaker that its popular hybrid will be priced higher than the 2010 Honda Insight, which starts at $20,470 and went on sale March 24." But Toyota will make a move to counter the budget-priced Insight. "Toyota's pricing strategy includes the rollout later this year of the 2010 Toyota Prius I, a stripped-down base model that will start at $21,750." That is still more expensive than the Insight, but with the Prius returning 50 mpg to the Insight's 41, the value proposition may still make sense for many buyers.
The price cut means that Toyota has apparently abandoned plans to sell the 2009 Prius alongside the 2010, as a more budget-conscious model. Autoblog notes that "Toyota's strategy in Japan was to keep the previous generation Prius in production to compete with the Insight on price. However, when we asked a Toyota spokesman in New York if the company evaluated the same option for the US, we were told Toyota decided against it."
The Prius will come in five trim levels, meaning that prices stretch from $21,750 to over $32,000. Kicking Tires explains, "The top-of-the-line Prius V ... gets costly, starting at $27,270. There are also new options, like a Solar Roof Package." A Prius V with all available options tops out at $32,500.
A final note - that inexpensive Prius I, when it arrives, may not be attractive to many buyers. Toyota spokesperson Ming-Jou Chen told Edmunds Inside Line the equipment list for the stripper model "has not been finalized, but it will not have cruise control, the Touch Tracer Display [a digital display of the steering wheel controls], EV mode, which keeps the vehicle in electric mode only for short periods of time, or a rear wiper."