Believe it or not, the Toyota Prius has been available in the U.S. for over a decade.
Aimed at a much more mainstream market than the first two generations of Prius Hybrid, the 2012 Toyota Prius Liftback, 2012 Toyota Prius V, 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and 2012 Toyota Prius C offer the best gas mileage of any Toyota hybrid to date.
But if like us, you’ve got a soft spot for the slightly smaller, geekier Toyota Prius from 2004-2009, you’ll be pleased to know you might soon be able to buy one, brand new.
The only catch? They’ve been sat in storage in Miami for the past five years.
According to Flordia-based El Nuevo Herald (via PriusChat), the south Florida metro county of Miami-Dade purchased in excess of 300 vehicles between 2006 and 2007 that until recently, have never been used.
Among them, scores of Ford F250 Pickup Trucks, Chevy Pickup Trucks, Minivans, Dodge Status and Toyota Priuses.
Apparently purchased by former Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez, who was removed from office in a March 2011 recall election prompted by claims of misappropriation of funds, around 135 of the vehicles have now entered service in the county.
El Nuevo Herald reports that Carlos Gimenez, the current mayor, has ordered an investigation to find out how and why the cars, including the brand-new 2006/7 Toyota Prius Hybrids, were left unused.
“We want to know who made that decision and why they did,” he said at a public ceremony on Friday. “We want to determine whether they were decisions that came from above. All that has to be investigated.”
Of course, regardless of what happens next, the brand-new Toyota Priuses will likely require a full service, new tires and new parts before being sold or used, just like the hundreds of other abandoned new vehicles.
After five years of sitting idle, it’s likely that each car will need a new 12-volt auxiliary battery, as well as perhaps a brand-new hybrid traction battery.
Although Toyota warranties its Prius hybrid battery pack and drivetrains for 8-years or 100,000 miles, we’re doubtful that the Japanese automaker will agree to replace any dead batteries under warranty.
We suspect there’s a clause in the warranty somewhere excluding claims for cars left standing for five years.
At a cost of around $2,500 per car for a replacement hybrid battery pack, we doubt Miami-Dade county will want to spend that much recommissioning cars it hasn’t used, especially since each car will be out of warranty.
It’s for that reason that we’d expect Miami-Dade to cut its losses and sell the abandoned hybrids at a loss, despite plans to add most of the abandoned vehicles to the county’s fleet “as needed.”
Since the Priuses are most likely to be examples of the base-level Prius, Toyota’s fleet-only budget-basement model, we’re intrigued to see what happens next.
Would you buy an unused, five-year old Hybrid in the pursuit of better gas mileage? Let us know in the Comments below.