Toyota to cut prices by 50%
If you were thinking of buying a Prius – don’t. Toyota’s going to cut the price even more than Apple cut that on the iPhone: they’re going to cut the price in half for the next generation Prius.
So says the Toyota Executive Vice President in charge of research and development, Kazuo Okamoto. He spoke to reporters at the Tokyo Motor Show. "When we went from the first-generation Prius to the second-generation, we did the same thing.”
Okamoto also said that the next generation Prius will continue with nickel hydride batteries, not use lithium ion batteries. Speculation has the next generation car being introduced in late 2008, though Toyota is not confirming a time table. "I can’t tell you when it will come to market, but the preparations are making steady progress," he said.
The statements apparently disclose a deliberate Toyota marketing plan, one in which sticking with older technology but cutting the price is the means of expanding their market. The Toyota plan would put the Prius at the bottom of the price range for automobiles sold in the United States, and well below the anticipated price of about $30,000 for the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt. But the Volt is expected to use lithium ion batteries, giving it vastly more range than the Prius could achieve using nickel hydride batteries.
Thus, if the current plans evolve as expected, the Prius will be primarily an internal combustion vehicle that can used batteries a little bit some of the time, while the Volt will be much more electrical in nature, including the ability to be recharged at a customer’s residence and then drive 300 miles on batteries. At least that’s the plan at GM.
Whether GM can pull it off remains to be seen. But it seems that Toyota sees the “hybrid” as a cheap car, not an alternative power plant. This, perhaps, reflects the conclusion at Toyota that the technology will not allow them to produce a car at a typical price range and sell it, because there is no real market for cars that are severely limited in their utility. Hence, the decision to continue with the Prius, only cut the price. It is, after all, exactly what Henry Ford did when he needed to keep obsolete technology saleable.