There’s an old saying that goes, “One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity,” that I think is particularly apt in describing this latest story. With the civil war in Libya nudging petrol prices skyward and with the growing fear that Japan’s earthquake crisis will slow production of Toyota’s ubiquitous Prius hybrid, American consumers are flocking to their nearest dealership to snatch one up.
Tammy Darvish, the owner of four Toyota dealerships around Washington D.C. explains: “A lot of customers are convinced that prices will be going up and that availability [of the Prius] will be a little short.”
A Texas Toyota dealer is reporting that his sales have doubled in the last six weeks due to steadily increasing fuel prices. And with no U.S. factory producing the popular hybrid five-door, it’s not like there’s a backup supply if things become more pear shaped in the land of the rising sun.
February sales are up 27% from the month before, and nearly 75% more than this time last year at the height of the brand’s PR damaging unintended acceleration debacle. Though neither its Prius assembly nor two of its three battery plants were damaged in the earthquakes that hit Japan’s Hanshin industrial region last week, production at all Japan-based Toyota plants has been halted until at least next week due to, “prioritization and electric power availability”.
Toyota North America is assuring customers that supplies are adequate at the moment, though, “customers may need to check a number of dealers and may not find exactly the color and equipment they want”.
Edmunds have noted a 3% nationwide increase in Toyota Prius prices in the last few weeks, though dealers are not yet expecting as big a spike as was felt during the 2008 semi-fuel crisis. CoolPictures will keep abreast of this issue and post any updates we receive in the coming weeks.
By Tristan Hankins