Remember that $21,000, very basic 2010 Prius? Toyota has now confirmed it has neither current plans nor a schedule for selling the lowest-level model of the 2010 Toyota Prius, known as the Prius I, to consumers.

In fact, it doesn't even have a timeframe for "continued, regular fleet sales of Prius I" beyond a small pilot program it ran in September.

Missing mystery 2010 Prius

We've written before about the missing model of the 2010 Prius, which was launched early this year in equipment levels II, III, IV, and V.

The then-unspecified Prius I model was rumored to retail at $21,000, giving Toyota a direct competitor for the 2010 Honda Insight, priced at $20,470. The 2010 Insight is Honda's first dedicated hybrid since the 2006 demise of the original two-seat 1999 Insight.

Ordered: 177 Prius I models

In response to a question from reader Bill Cooley in Kalamazoo, Michigan, contacted Toyota. Spokesman Greg Thome told us the company did a single pilot program for the Prius I this fall, resulting in 177 units sold solely to fleets across the U.S.

2010 Toyota Prius two-tone leather interior

2010 Toyota Prius two-tone leather interior

2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius rear seat

2010 Toyota Prius rear seat

Those fleets "should start seeing their supply arriving toward the end of the year," according to Thome. He noted that the pilot program "was conducted via our fleet department and didn't include any retail sales."

We're not really surprised that Toyota isn't focusing on the simplest, cheapest 2010 Prius model. With global demand strong, and more U.S. buyers than expected ordering expensive options like the solar moonroof, Toyota doesn't need low-end Prius sales right now.

What's not included?

The Prius I, Thome reminds us, was designed to meet the needs of "certain consumers, as well as businesses, municipalities, utilities, local government agencies, and other fleet operators seeking a fuel-efficient vehicle with an environmental focus."

While he couldn't offer much useful information on schedule or retail sales, Thome did provide a list of all the equipment deleted to bring the price down. As compared to the Prius II, the Prius I does not have the following features:

  • Cruise control
  • Touch Tracer Display
  • Smart Key
  • EV mode
  • Rear wiper
  • Tonneau cover
  • Heated side mirrors
  • Satellite radio antenna and satellite capable radio
  • Rear armrest with 2 cupholders
  • 2 speakers
  • Rear heater duct
  • Passenger seatback pocket
  • Foldable rear headrests
  • Underbody spoilers/spats

Don't hold your breath

It's undeniably a grimmer car, but the Prius I would surely still provide that magic mileage that caused the EPA to rate the fuel efficiency of the 2010 Toyota Prius at a combined 50 miles per gallon.

Just don't hold your breath for retail sales. If you really want one, write Toyota. Otherwise, canvass your local dealers for a Prius II with no added options.