The Toyota Prius Prime is a far better car than its plug-in hybrid predecessor, and it seems likely to become one of the higher-volume plug-in electric cars on the U.S. market.

If, that is, Toyota's own dealers prove willing to sell it—or even find out that it exists.

After three separate complaints by readers in different areas of the U.S., we dug into how Toyota has communicated with its dealers on the 2017 Prius Prime.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime: gas mileage, electric range review

The company has now told us numerous times that the Prius Prime will be available nationwide—unlike its predecessor, the 2012-2015 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.

That car, with its anemic 11-mile electric range (only 6 miles of it continuous), was limited to California and a handful of other markets in states that have adopted its emission laws.

According to Toyota's East Coast communciations manager Corey Proffitt:

The Prius Prime is available in all 50 states and deliveries began [in December] in all states. Initial deliveries were prioritized for [California and other] ZEV states based on customer demand, but allocation was balanced based on demand among all Toyota sales regions.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

In other words, you can buy a Prius Prime from any Toyota dealer in the U.S.—and if the dealer tells you otherwise, you can show them this article.

Customers shouldn't have to argue with dealerships about whether a nationally marketed car is actually available, however.

And that's what happened to three separate readers last month.

WATCH THIS: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime vs 2017 Chevrolet Volt: plug-in hybrid video test

On December 1, well after 781 Prius Primes were sold the previous month, one buyer walked into Dunning Toyota in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"My Toyota dealer told me that they'd heard Toyota would not sell Prius Prime anywhere in the U.S. other than California and New York," that reader wrote.

"She said they were told not to expect any Primes in any foreseeable time frame."

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

Then, in late December, we received the following message from a buyer who'd inquired about the Prius Prime at a dealer in the Dallas area.

Here's what that dealer told him:

The Prius Prime will not be sold by Gulf States Toyota distributor in any of their five-state market. That covers Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. [The company] will not stock their dealers or allow orders to be taken. Those orders already taken with deposits are canceled and the deposits are to be refunded.

CHECK OUT: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime: first drive of new plug-in hybrid

Finally, a third reader wrote just last week: "When I asked about the Prius Prime at the Toyota dealer in Pueblo, Colorado, two salesmen solemnly assured me that it was only for sale in California."

"They gave me that 'Oh, sure' look when I told them that was not the case," he added.

In all three cases, what the dealer told the buyer was entirely wrong and simply untrue.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

"Prius Prime sales just began in late November," noted Toyota's Proffitt, "and volume was and continues [to be] trickling into the U.S."

He also said that initial allocations of the car were "planned to be targeted toward the ZEV states where the majority of demand resides."

And, he said, Toyota hadn't communicated to dealers outside the California-rules states that shipments of the Prime would be coming until very recently.

MORE VIDEO: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid: video road test

The company did, however, tell dealers that the plug-in hybrid version of the Prius would be sold nationwide as early as its national sales meeting last April.

Toyota sold 781 Primes in November and another 1,641 in December, putting the plug-in Prius into the top five in U.S. monthly sales after just its second month.

Deliveries to dealers across the country will continue over the next several months, letting them build their inventories of the brand-new offering.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

He also pointed out that:

This is the first time the plug-in Prius will be sold outside the ZEV states, so there is some legacy in educating and communicating with dealers and their associates who will now sell Prius Prime. For most, this will be the first time selling a plug-in Toyota.

Based on inventory levels in early December, had an associate in one of the non-ZEV areas checked their region’s stock, there may not have been a Prius Prime available. Inventory continues to trickle into those states and will increase as vehicles become available and demand builds.

So, to repeat: The Toyota Prius Prime can be sold by any one of the 1,200 Toyota dealers in the U.S.

Even if that dealer tells you otherwise.

Which begs the continuing question: what exactly went wrong—and why does it continue to be so hard to buy plug-in electric cars from franchised auto dealers?


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