A lot of people, including a few of our readers, seem to have it in for tree-huggers, environmentalists – you know, the sustainability freaks who drive “sardine cans.” And one of the objects of their disgust has typically been the Prius. Well, given recent developments, you can imagine how they are gloating.
With resale and trade-in values falling, the Prius haters are out in full force. No matter that the car is well-designed, well-built, and has had terrific acceptance. The problem is really the people who drive it. Says Toby Litt in the Guardian,
The Prius has a brand image that very obviously plays off its owner’s self-image. Why choose one unless you want to advertise to all other car-owners that you’re some kind of tree-hugging do-gooder? This wilful buying-in to ethical consumption explains why it’s such a great target for satire – from South Park’s episode, Smug Alert!, to the fake “Well, at least he drives a Prius” ads.
And, to be honest, Toyota reinforced the image with their goony, childlike flower “harmony” ad for the 2010 car, which struck many of us who fancy ourselves environmentalists as over the top and truly silly.
Now the company is running an equally ineffectual and pious ad stressing its commitment to restoring consumer trust.
Now the Prius haters will have something to really sink their teeth into. Add to that the declining values of all Toyota cars: Kelley Blue Book says the new Prius has been selling for $1,000-1,500 under MSRP, and used-Prius values are down about 1.5 percent. There are also reports of “large amounts of unpublicized cash” incentives to dealers to improve sales, and there may be more coming.
Dealers are getting scared. Some seem to be resorting to all the pushy, cliché tactics that car salesmen are traditionally known for.
One Iowa dealer tried to squeeze [a buyer] by claiming, “We need to have this done before noon,” while another lugged out the ancient pitch: “If I show you a way, will you buy this car today?”
Dealers are stuck with inventory that won’t move, and non-Toyota dealers are taking advantage of that, particularly the Honda shops.
A little good news for Toyota came in a recent Edmunds.com review of over 200,000 customer complaints filed with the NHTSA. Toyota ranked 17th out of 20 carmakers in overall number of complaints per vehicle sold. That’s fewer complaints than Ford (#10 on the list) and GM (#11). Land Rover and Suzuki had the most complaints per unit sold.
We want to hear from you Toyota owners out there. How do you feel about the company’s quality issues? Has the company taken an unfair hit on the recalls?