The prices of high-mileage offerings are going up as demand rises amid reports that gasoline has reached a price of $4 per gallon. The disaster in Japan had affected the availability of high-MPG vehicles and the rise in demand has raised the prices.
Edmunds.com said that in the first week of May, the Toyota Prius hybrid’s transaction price was $64 higher than the sticker price. It also revealed that used Prius hybrids are currently selling higher than average.
Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said that as gas prices exceeded $4 a gallon in 2008, the demand for Priuses was so high that they’d be in and out of the dealers’ lots in hours instead of days.
It’s likely that as consumers demand more hybrids, dealers will be scrambling to acquire the most number of hybrids as they could. Earl Stewart, a Toyota dealer in North Palm Beach, Fla., said that its Priuses ran out more than a month ago.
Last March, Stewart sold 88 new Priuses while in April, it sold only 24. He believes that if he sells 10 or 12 this month, he’d be lucky.
Even if Toyota had experienced parts shortages as a result of the March 11 earthquake, the arrival of the larger Prius V, its latest addition to the Prius family, will still proceed as scheduled this fall.
When it comes to a full hybrid powertrain design, the first name that comes to mind is Toyota with the Prius continuing to be the most recognized product under this particular subject. Even with the Prius already out in the market, the company still releases this technology to new segments in the market like what it did with the Yaris Hybrid and the Auris Hybrid.
This does not mean that Toyota has forgotten about its celebrated model considering that the Prius continues to lead the industry when it comes to technological advances. For every generation of the Prius that Toyota has launched, it always comes with new technological features that are clearly ahead of the pack.
Proof of this is the release of the third generation Prius that was introduced in 2009. Inside the Prius is a mix of the remote controlled air conditioning and the solar ventilation system, a first in the world. What this combination does is that when the Prius is still parked, the solar ventilation system ensures that the air temperature in the interior does not increase.
Then the air conditioning can then be triggered remotely and as a result of the hybrid battery and its large capacity, the interior can be as cool as needed for at most three minutes before entering it. Another interesting feature in this Prius is its Head-up Display. With this, the driver is able to get the needed information by simply looking at the windscreen’s base. Some of the data cover the current speed of the vehicle and the Eco Drive Monitor.
It can even show the current status of the Active Cruise Control system and the Pre-Crash Safety system, though both are offered as options. Meanwhile on its steering wheel, the display switch of the Touch Tracer is mounted to it. This feature enables the driver to control the ECO Drive Monitor, air conditioning system, and even the audio system. All these are possible without the driver ever needing to take the hands off the steering wheel or even look down. The Adaptive Cruise Control equipped to it is integrated with the Pre-Crash Safety system which utilizes sensors that have been placed below its front grille.
With these sensors, the whole system is able to predict potential collisions and it then activates the various safety features. Thus it will pre-tension the seatbelts and even turn on the Brake Assist audible alarm. When the system determines that a collision cannot be prevented, it triggers automatic braking which reduces the likelihood of the impact and with it the damage. Still on the third generation Prius, it is also fitted with the Intelligent Parking Assist making parking easy for any driver as the system moves the vehicle to the parking spot that was selected.
Through the use of a rear view camera combined with the ultrasonic sensors, the Intelligent Parking Assist is able to analyze what steering movements are needed in order to fit in the parking space. All that’s left for the driver to do is control the speed.
These different technological features are likely part of the reason why just two years after it was officially released, almost 100,000 units of this Prius were sold in Europe alone. The appeal remains even for first-time Prius customers. Figures show that for the first six months of 2011, around 50% of the sales of Prius in Europe were attributed to customers who used to patronize Toyota’s rivals. While the third generation Prius does offer a lot, the new model is expected to offer a lot more. First revealed during the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011, this new Prius comes with an improved design for its exterior especially with the front now having a more dynamic appearance.
The new design of its Under Priority front bumper now puts more highlight on the larger lower grille. This is in fact in line with the new look of Toyota’s next generation line-up. Its clear lens headlamp also sports a new design and now has a modified set-up for its LED lamp with the daytime running lights integrated to its bumper. Redesigned as well are the door mirrors which now have a power-folding function and it even has the indicator lamps, which have been redesigned as well.
The combination lamps in the rear have been revamped as well in order to ensure that even in the dark, the Prius remains to be familiar. A solar roof is offered as an option. Equipped as standard is the alloy 17-inch with the 15-inch wheel coming in as an option. Eight colors will be made available for the exterior with two new ones being Dark Blue and Bordeaux. The exterior is not the only highlight of the new Prius as the sensorial quality of the interior has been enhanced. This was made possible with the use of black and then adding in the silver insets to the center console and air vents.
The push start button now comes in hybrid blue while high-quality upholstery is used for the seats. The center console has an arm rest that comes with a new design. It can open up vertically and has been integrated with the open-type cup holder that has a silver ring finish. Meanwhile inside this arm rest and in front of its storage space are the AUX connections and USB port. Finally, the new Prius not only has improved instrumentation but has numerous advanced navigation systems and multimedia, all reasonable.
Examples of the navigation system are the Toyota Touch, Toyota Touch Pro, and Toyota Touch & Go Plus. Enhanced as well is the multi-information display which now has the Vacuum Fluorescent Display with 16 gradation-steps. This results in a richer display and a better 3D image.