Want That 50-MPG 2010 Toyota Prius For $21K? Keep Waiting

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2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius

Often we get our best topics for posts from AllAboutPrius.com readers. Yesterday, Steven Ileras sent us a note asking about the status of the mysterious Prius I trim level.

When we ran down the 2010 Toyota Prius equipment levels and packages (numbered II, III, IV and V) right after introduction, it was obvious that there was a missing equipment level, numbered I.

Indeed, in mid-June, Toyota announced it would launch the Prius I for $21,000 (plus a mandatory $750 delivery fee), with the specific details to be released later.  Turns out, though, that "later" means, "We can't even tell you when we're going to tell you."

We called Toyota representative Joe Tetherow, who was pleasant but unspecific. Details will come "later this year," no month or even quarter specified. The car's equipment specification will be revealed "at that time".

When we pressed him, he said the precise equipment on the Prius I is "still being negotiated" between Toyota's US unit in Torrance, California, and the product managers in Japan.

The process they're wrangling over is known in the business as "de-contenting". It's figuring out how much you can remove from a car to meet a price point without making it so undesirable that no one will want it.

Tetherow cited cruise control, for example, as one feature that might be eliminated from the Prius I.

Who does Toyota expect to buy the lowest-spec model? "The more price-conscious buyer," said Tetherow (no surprise there), and fleet buyers. Those will likely include municipal bodies who can make a significant impact on their entire fleet when they buy large numbers of low-emission vehicles.

We'll let you (and reader Ileras) know as soon as we hear what's in a Prius I (and what's not). Meanwhile, check our very popular 2010 Toyota Prius Reference Guide for all the info you need on the latest and greatest Prius.



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