2012 Toyota Prius C, drive event, La Jolla, CA, Feb 2012Enlarge Photo
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-GougingEnlarge Photo
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.