There has been a lot of hype surrounding the next generation Toyota Prius, which has recently launched in Japan, and which we can expect soon in the UK. It has a new, bigger engine, increased performance and reduced emissions. And of course it’s by default the darling of the ‘Planet Savers’. So there is much expectation, both in terms of buyers shining their ‘Green Halo’ and of the car being much better than it’s very over-rated older brother.
But those who are anticipating a quick and plentiful supply of new Toyota Prius to satisfy their desires could be in for a longer wait than they thought, thanks to much higher than expected sales in Japan.
As we reported recently, Toyota announced pre-release sales for the New Prius were running at 75,000 (later revised to 80,000), some 80% of the expected level for the whole of the first year. Add to that the status of the Honda Insight Hybrid as the best selling car in Japan at the moment and you would be forgiven for thinking the Japanese have decided that Hybrids are the only way for the motor car in the future.
But in fact the whole market for cars in Japan has been skewed by the Japanese Government’s version of our Scrappage Scheme in the UK. Besides offering a similar system to our own (but on cars older than 13 years) the Japanese are offering an additional 40% on their scrappage allowance for buyers of Hybrid cars. Which has seen an unprecedented demand for ‘Green’ cars.
The upshot of this is that Toyota seem unable to make cars quickly enough to satisfy the demand, and are going to have to limit supply of the new Prius for their overseas markets. But don’t worry. If you were thinking of buying a new Prius this could just save you from making a costly mistake. It’s going to cost you at least £20,000 to get in to a new Prius. But perhaps you should instead consider a high-efficiency diesel instead. Something like the Fiesta ECOnetic or the Vauxhall Corsa ecoFLEX. Both are significantly cheaper to buy, offer better mpg and have lower emissions than the current Prius.
Yes, they are smaller than the Prius, but the Fiesta in particular can certainly carry four adults without too much discomfort. They’re also a damn site nicer to drive.