2008 July 29 Tuesday
Costly Energy Brings Prius Price Rise

Toyota dealers are offering to buy back several month old Priuses for what people originally paid for them.

I look at the data a lot and it's very rare -- I've almost never seen this -- to see the transaction price of a new vehicle rise after it has been sold," says Tom Libby of J.D. Power & Associates. "It speaks to the huge imbalance between supply and demand of the Prius."

Libby says the average price of a new 2008 Prius sold last month -- to those relative few who could get their hands on one -- was $26,672. With Toyota unable to meet demand, the price of used 2008 models with about 8,000 miles on them was almost $1,300 more than retail at $27,945. Even more impressive, used 2007 models have been fetching an average of $26,396. That's just $276 less than new 2008 vehicles.

Toyota will bring a new Prius factory online in 2010.

I've been watching used car prices for over a year on AutoTrader.com and watched various used small cars go up in price. Used Ford Focuses have definitely gone up for example. These high prices will ease as a lot of factories get shifted over toward making smaller cars. Also the smaller cars will become more fuel efficient. You can already see this trend in the last few years. Go to FuelEconomy.gov and compare a 2006 Ford Focus with a 2008 Focus. Ford found ways to boost its fuel efficiency a few miles per gallon. Ford did the same with the Ford 500 when they renamed it the Taurus (while improving acceleration at the same time). Better transmissions with dual clutch and more gears, direct injection, and other techniques can boost fuel efficiency.

More coming improvements in fuel efficiency will eventually cut down the value of the used small cars that do not possess these advantages.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 July 29 11:24 PM  Economics Energy

Ned said at July 30, 2008 6:26 AM:

I've often wondered just how much gas hybrid vehicles save, and whether owning them isn't more about political correctness than fuel economy, so I did some comparison shopping.

Take the Honda Civic Sedan and its hybrid counterpart. The hybrid lists for $22,600 and the standard Civic for $15,010. The hybrid gets 42 mpg combined city/highway driving, while the standard Civic gets 29 mpg. Assuming an average amount of driving (15,000 miles/year) and a gas cost of $4/gal, the hybrid driver spends $1428.57 per year for gas and the standard driver spends $2068.96 per year, a difference of $640.39. At this rate, it will take 11.85 years for the hybrid owner to recover the extra cost.

Another interesting comparison is the Lexus GS 350 and its hybrid counterpart. The standard GS 350 gets 19/27 mpg (city/highway), while the hybrid gets 19/25 mpg. So the hybrid actually gets lower mpg at high speeds (probably due to the extra weight of the electric motor and battery). The hybrid costs $55,800 and the standard model costs $44,500. Assuming the same 15,000 miles per year driven and an equal amount of city/highway driving, the payback time is measured in centuries!

RP said at July 30, 2008 10:40 AM:

My 11 year old Ford Aspire subcompact gets MPG in the mid-30's. The current blue book value on it is about $500. I think the Prius thing is totally about status. There are much cheaper ways to get high MPG.

Reality Czech said at July 31, 2008 10:23 AM:

Ned, your $15,010 price is almost certainly the base model, while hybrids have many features included. What is the price difference between comparably equipped Civics?

Ned said at August 1, 2008 6:07 AM:

RC -

As near as I could tell from the Honda web site, the models are comparable, but go ahead and take a look for yourself - maybe you can discover some hidden extras that I couldn't.

Big Bill said at August 3, 2008 5:48 AM:

Until it died three months ago due to a rusted out front suspension, my 1993 Geo Metro was making 42 on the highway with 105,000 miles. So why did they kill it off? And why am I not impressed with the Prius?

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