Sales of the Prius have fallen 5.9 percent this year.
Alan Ohnsman Chicago Tribune - August 4, 2006
2007 Toyota Prius price increases by 2.1%
Toyota Motor Corp., the world's largest seller of gasoline-electric autos, raised the starting price of the Prius hybrid car 2.1 percent for the 2007 model and will add a new version to help boost sales.
The increase is $450, to $22,175, the company's Torrance, California-based U.S. sales unit said in a statement today. The new Touring Edition begins at $23,070 and has larger wheels and a stiffer suspension. The 2007 models go on sale this month.
Toyota's addition of new fuel-efficient hybrids since 2005, including versions of the Camry and Lexus GS sedans and Highlander and Lexus RX sport-utility vehicles, helped it raise U.S. sales 10 percent this year. Sales of the Prius have fallen 5.9 percent. The car remains the best-selling hybrid in the U.S., with 59,270 through July.
The automaker has blamed the Prius decline on limited availability of the cars at dealers and tight supplies of nickel-metal-hydride batteries used in its hybrids. Jim Lentz, Toyota's U.S. sales chief, said last month that the Prius supply is improving and that sales this year will at least match the 107,897 in 2005.
Prius prices can rise to more than $31,000 with options such as leather seats, a voice-activated navigation system and a rear-backup camera, said Bill Kwong, a company spokesman.
Hybrid sales have increased as U.S. average gasoline prices have stayed near $3 a gallon since late April. The vehicles save fuel and reduce emissions by combining a gasoline engine, a battery pack and brakes that capture energy from stopping.
Toyota's U.S. shares rose $1.17 to $108.14 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading at 4:02 p.m. and have gained 3.4 percent this year. The Toyota City, Japan-based company trails only General Motors Corp. in worldwide auto sales.