Auto executives always want you to buy their cars, today. That goes without saying.
But it's slightly less common for them to say, in effect, "This is the month to buy, 'cause we're going to be discounting the heck out of 'em."
Nonetheless, that was the message from Bob Carter, Toyota's group vice president and general manager, about the company's quintessential hybrid-electric vehicle the Prius.
At the end of a press call two weeks ago to discuss November's sales, Carter said December "will be the month" in which to buy a new Prius, because Toyota finds itself overstocked with the hybrid in some markets, including southern California.
Several factors play into the oversupply. First, the end of tax incentives in Japan that favored high-efficiency cars led sales in that market to drop off, and Prius production that had formerly supplied Japan was freed up to build cars for the States instead.
2011 Toyota Prius
Second, with gasoline prices staying relatively low, sales of all hybrids have stayed flat or fallen even as the overall U.S. auto market gains momentum after two years of downturn.
Sales of the Prius fell 2 percent compared to the previous year, though the car still accounts for half the hybrids sold in the country.
To clear out its stocks, Toyota is planning an aggressive marketing, finance, and incentive program for leftover 2010 Prius models and new 2011 models as well.
Prices for the 2011 Toyota Prius hybrid start at $23,050 for the Prius II package, which is the least expensive Prius model offered to individual buyers.
How aggressive will Toyota be? “Our national program will be 2.9% financing and a very attractive lease,” Carter said in trade publication Ward's Auto. “It’ll be the most aggressive (Prius) marketing we’ve had.”
You heard the man. If you want to buy a Prius hybrid, this may be the month to do it. Especially if you live in southern California.