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Toyota can’t match US Insight price

Short circuit: Toyota's Prius is 10 per cent dearer than the Honda Insight in the US.

Toyota sets US Prius price above Insight, but threatens to release stripper version

22 Apr 2009

THE first round of the hybrid price war in the US appears to have gone to Honda’s new Insight, but Toyota is clearly unhappy to be playing second fiddle with its third-generation Prius.

Prices unveiled in the US yesterday show that Toyota cannot match the price of the simpler, less fuel-efficient Insight.

Toyota said the five-car Prius range would carry an initial entry-level suggested price of $US22,750 ($A32,100), including freight. That is 10 per cent more than the Insight, which starts at $US20,470 ($A28,800), including freight.

This reflects the price relativities seen in Japan earlier this month. Toyota has also indicated it would keep the current Prius in production for Japan only and make it the entry level model there.

Toyota slashed the intended price in Japan from the ¥2.4 million ($A34,300) initially indicated to dealers to just ¥2 million ($A28,500) to get closer to the Insight’s entry-level price of ¥1.9 million.

However, as in Japan, Toyota reserved the right to release a stripper version with a price of $US21,750 ($A30,600).

Toyota’s vice-president and general manager of the US Toyota division, Bob Carter, said a new base model with a lower level of standard equipment was scheduled to be available later this year.

“It is designed to appeal to most cost-conscious businesses and consumers,” he said.

8 center imageLeft: The Honda Insight.

Many buyers may see the Prius price premium as justified as the car can achieve fuel consumption of 4.7L/100km under US consumption testing, versus 5.7L/100km for the Insight.

The Prius is expected to achieve a test result of 3.9L/100km under Australian standards while the Insight is expected to achieve 4.4L/100km, the consumption figure achieved under the similar European standard.

“When it goes on sale, the 2010 Toyota Prius will once again set new standards for innovative hybrid design and technology, raising its level of convenience features and performance to new heights,” Mr Carter said.

The new Prius will be bigger, outside and in, and have a bigger, 1.8-litre engine, up from 1.5 litres.

The Insight is smaller than Honda’s current hybrid, the Civic, and comes with a 1.3-litre petrol engine.

Honda’s Insight derives its price advantage from a simpler engineering solution than the Prius. With the Honda, the petrol engine works all the time and is assisted during acceleration by the electric motor.

In contrast, the Toyota can operate solely on electric power up to about 40km/h before the petrol engine fires up. Both the Toyota and the Honda have idle-stop engines.

Toyota Australia and Honda Australia are waiting anxiously for their new hybrids, but delivery dates still have to be firmed up and prices are not yet available.

Read more:

Toyota to slice Prius price in Japan

Insight to lead Honda's Aussie hybrid assault

Honda to have the cheapest hybrid

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