2012 Toyota Prius C: Price-Gouging Pic Proves Popularity Of 50MPG Hybrid

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2012 Toyota Prius C, drive event, La Jolla, CA, Feb 2012

2012 Toyota Prius C, drive event, La Jolla, CA, Feb 2012

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The 2012 Toyota Prius C is probably the most anticipated hybrid of 2012, and offers subcompact style and hybrid gas mileage.  

It’s no surprise then that Toyota has already had to up production volumes in Japan, where the Prius C is currently made. 

But if the photograph we received this week from a reader who goes by the pseudonym of Miami4me2C  is anything to go by, a high demand for the fun-packed hybrid has also given rise to the age-old problem of inflated sticker prices as dealers try to cash in on the new hybrid’s popularity.

It shows the window sticker put on a Prius C Two by a Al Hendrickson Toyota of Coconut Creek, Florida, along with the $6,995 “Market Value Adjustment” the dealer has added to the sticker price. 

Toyota Prius C Price-Gouging

Toyota Prius C Price-Gouging

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The total?  $27,834.  For the record, that’s over $2,000 expensive than the MSRP of a mid-range 2012 Toyota Prius hatchback.

Inflated prices -- often referred to as price-gouging -- is a normal and legal part of the automotive world. In order to maximize their profits, dealers regularly inflate the asking price of desirable cars to offset any losses made from slower-to-sell cars. 

As a consequence, it’s fairly common to see cars advertised a few hundred dollars above the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), especially when demand is high. 

But an extra $6,995? Even that made us gasp -- and we’ve seen some pretty high retail prices advertised by dealers for popular cars in the past. 

UPDATE: Maurice Durand of Toyota Motor Sales responded to our inquiry as follows: "As the distributor, we do not advocate mark ups beyond the manufacturer's standard retail price.

"The dealers are independent business operations and while we advise against raising prices beyond suggested retail, ultimately the final price is determined in the negotiations between the dealer and the customer."

At the time of writing, although we’ve made two different contacts to Toyota and to the garage in question to ask about the hugely inflated price of this particular car, we haven’t received an official statement yet.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in buying this fun-to-drive 50 mpg subcompact, shop around, and be prepared that some dealers may ask more than MSRP until supply better aligns with demand. 


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Comments (12)
  1. Nice, the tag line for these %^&&$%^& on their website is "It's All About You!"(R) Perhaps they truncated this from the full tag line which should be "It's All About You and How We Can &*%^ You Over".

  2. Don't know how GCR will feel about this, but this dealership's Twitter account is @AlHendricksToy and their facebook is https://www.facebook.com/alhendricksontoyota?sk=wall

    We could give them a little friendly feedback.

  3. I'd just walk out of a dealership like that and never return

  4. That kind of gouging may work when the car in question is a hot, new serving of automotive eye-candy. But in this instance, the C is essentially a poor-man's Prius hatchback. If they're going to charge more for the cheaper car, why would anybody bother with the C instead of simply opting for the hatchback?

  5. It'll be interesting to see if other dealerships follow suit. Unfortunately it's nothing new, a few years ago when I purchased a new Shelby there was a "market adjustment" of over 20K. I can understand if they can't produce the supply to meet the demand, but you're going to tell me Toyota can't throw those babies off the production line fast enough c'mon man.

  6. Is it really that in-demand or just something these Florida dealers do commonly? When Volts hit Florida, they were showing $4K markups for a while via some similar dealers. I hope consumers avoid these schemes. They are trying to buy cars to save money on gas or be ecological. They're not going to pay the stupid markups that the "muscle car" enthusiasts have done in the past for the newest big-engined rigs.

  7. Full disclosure: I'm a manager at Wilsonville Toyota in Oregon. This is ridiculous! No consumer should pay a market pricing addendum, EVER. We've never charged one. Always discounted below MSRP, even during cash-for-clunkers and worst gas prices ever. We are profitable and we do it without price haggle, without finance managers and closers, and without market pricing addendums. Any dealer that's truly customer-service focused can do the same.

  8. Sounds like you run a class operation, Paul.

    I have no objection to an adder for some showroom sparkle like polished alloys that can be bought or not but I won't do business with anyone who unilaterally adds big charges for Scotchgard, N2 in the tires and black plastic bump-strips on the wheelwells.. MSRP+$1099.00! (local dealer here in TX.) I did not buy my car from them nor will I take it there for service, even though they are closer.

    Obviously, I don't think I'll make it to OR for my next car buy but I'll mention your outfit to some family who ARE in the neighborhood.

  9. Patience people! Judge slowly. I saw a $5K markup last year for the new damn Kia Optima!?! Ridiculous. People in sales are apt to ask what the highest amount they can get for their product. Why are you surprised? Will this dealership sell one Prius C w/ this $7K markup? Probably not but they might sell a sizeable minority of them at 3 - 5K markups...

    Consumer Reports suggests and almost all safety, recall, reliability, and pricing data for all new or redesigned vehicle models tell the informed consumer to NEVER buy a first year model. The problems, both major n minor, are by far almost always more abundant in that first year. 3rd year and later is best. Prius C will probably have no markups anywhere this time next year.

  10. Test drove one today(3/23) in Eugene Oregon from the local dealer. They were asking the MSRP. The dealer had about 3 on hand. Said they had sold about 16-18 so far. Was a nice little car. Averaged around 55mpg around town, conservatively driving. Took it out on the expressway for about 1.5 miles and average about 50mpg at 55mph. Was hoping it would do better since I was not driving fast. Was a little let down by the highway mpgs. Overall, a nice car and I may purchase it. Very quiet drive for a small car. It was nice to see the local dealer was not trying to take advantage of the pricing!

  11. I think 20,000 to 25,000 is price gouging in a recession just because the refinereys are gouging us the car dealers and mfg team up to see how many fools they can find.

  12. I wonder how you can justify calling this price gouging when no car, to my knowledge has ever expected to sell for the MSRP, which is, at most, a "suggested price", and often a price that no one expects to get for the car. So if asking above sticker is "gouging", then exactly what do you call it when, as typically happens, the dealer accepts less than sticker. Is that
    called "charity pricing" ? Perhaps some are unaware that there is no such thing as an "official price." The very notion of an "official price" indicates a severe misunderstanding of a free market economy. In fact, any manufacturer who tried to enforce such pricing on his dealers, would be sued by the anti-trust boys for price fixing, as happened with golf clubs.

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