japan-Toyota-PriusThe ripple effects of the catastrophic earthquake in Japan are just beginning to arrive at our shores and will bring big changes in the market for the Toyota Prius.  This week, Northern CA Toyota dealerships learned that their allocations of new Prius were reduced by as much as 80%.  That means in the next 2-4 weeks, dealers will receive only a small fraction of the new vehicles they would normally get.

And the situation will worsen before it gets better.   Toyota production is offline for at least the next several weeks, and possibly longer, depending on how the crisis in Japan develops.    Given the time it takes to build and ship a car, dealerships in the US could be without new inventory for several months entering the peak summer driving season.

At the same time, ongoing instability in the Middle East has sent the price of oil surging over $100/barrel.  After a brief respite caused by the disruption of demand from Japan, the price will likely continue climbing upward.   Gas at the pump, already at $4/gallon, will resume its upward rise toward $5/gallon, perhaps by Memorial Day.

The combination of increasing demand and restricted supply will result in a dramatic change in the market for Prius very shortly.  If you can still find a new Prius for sale at or near invoice, grab it.  Within days, you’ll likely see dealerships raise their pricing on 2011 Prius.  The 2.9% financing deal currently offered by Toyota is also likely to go away by the end of the month if not sooner.

We’ll continue to post updates as the situation develops.    Effective Wednesday, March 16th, pricing on all Prius that we broker will be increased to MSRP until further notice.

2011 Toyota Prius Arrives in Bay Area

2011 Toyota Prius

The 2011 Toyota Prius is hitting Bay Area dealerships now.   Having gone through a major redesign last year, the third generation Prius remains essentially unchanged from 2010.

Although the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf now offer competition for those looking for the state-of-the art in alternative and fuel efficient vehicles, each has its disadvantages.  The Leaf is an electric-only vehicle with a limited range before requiring lengthy charging.  And the Volt adds plug-in capability so it can go further using only batteries, but you’ll pay a hefty premium to buy it.

Bottom line, the 2011 Prius, with it’s 50+ mpg rating, it’s sporty feel, luxury options and everyday practicality, looks set to enjoy another year as the most popular hybrid car.

Right now, supply is good and prices are fairly soft.  We’re seeing most new models selling at or below dealer invoice, with prices starting at $22,684 for a package II.  For a quote on the Prius of your choice, or if you have questions, contact Gene at (510) 282-0348 or Gene@Priusfinder.com

You can read a full review of the 2011 Prius at Edmunds