As more hybrid models work their way into the market, Toyota Australia has announced price cuts for the 2011 Prius - the third generation in the company's longest-running hybrid line.
The price cuts, which range from almost $5000 to more than $7500, come as Toyota's luxury brand Lexus begins sales of the all-new hybrid-powered CT 200h premium hatch.
Until now, the $39,990 CT 200h Prestige and the entry-level Prius were nearly neck-and-neck in pricing, with only $90 between them (the CT 200h is still priced alongside the larger Hybrid Camry Luxury however, at $39,990).
"A key factor in lowering the cost of any advanced technology is market acceptance, leading to strong sales. Prius is the world's most popular hybrid car and its rapidly increasing global sales have made this move possible," Toyota Australia boss Dave Buttner said.
"In fact, demand has been accelerating: Total Prius sales have now exceeded half a million for the first time, with more than 16,000 sold in Australia."
The latest Australia sales figures paint a different picture however, with the Prius selling just 190 cars so far in 2011 - compared to 460 for the same period in 2010.
Prius sales have in part been dented by the similarly-priced but larger Hybrid Camry, which makes up about a quarter of all Camry sales - Australia's best-selling mid-size car and the winner of TMR's Best Buy Award in 2010.
A drop in Prius sales is to be expected however, with the range of hybrid offerings growing not only in the Toyota and Lexus line-ups, but also among competing brands.
The Prius has also faced stiff competition from the Honda Insight hybrid this year, with 176 sales so far in 2011.
Globally, Toyota has sold more than three million hybrid cars, and sales are growing faster than ever: it has sold more than one million hybrids in the past 18 months, compared to 10 years for the first million and just over two years for the second million.
Toyota Australia is also considering local debuts for the recently-revealed Prius V wagon and the Prius C city car, which it will show at this year's Australian International Motor Show to gauge market interest.
2011 Prius Pricing
- Prius - New: $34,990 | Previous: $39,900
- Prius 1 - New: $40,590 | Previous: $45,500
- Prius i-Tech - New: $45,990 | Previous: $53,500
- Prius i-Tech 2 - New: $44,590 | Previous: $52,000
Note: prices are Manufacturer's List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
1 - With 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation, reverse camera and Intelligent Park Assist.
2 - With 17-inch alloy wheels (moonroof deleted).