The Prius Needs a Gas Tax

That didn't take long. As soon as a gallon of gas stabilized around $2 and change, hybrid sales started to flatline. Now Toyota needs to use incentives to push the Prius:

In April, Toyota will begin its first national advertising campaign for Prius since it began selling the hybrid in the United States in 2000. Ads will begin appearing in local markets before then.

Toyota has also started offering the first incentives on the Prius, including some no-interest financing, and lease deals of as little as $219 a month.

The moves by Toyota come amid flat sales last year for Prius, whose first six years in the American market were a carmaker's dream. Dealers had waiting lists of as long as a year for Prius, which runs on a combination of an electric motor and a gasoline engine. Buyers routinely paid several thousand dollars more than the $22,175 sticker price.

Last October, after gasoline prices spiked above $3 a gallon, Toyota had only a three-hour inventory of Prius cars, said James D. Farley, Toyota vice president for North American marketing. It sold 106,971 Prius cars in the United States last year, out of about 280,000 Prius cars sold worldwide.

But as gas prices dropped, Prius inventories climbed to a 30-day supply in January.

The only way we are going to get Americans to buy more fuel-efficient cars is to raise the cost of gasoline, which requires a gas tax. Of course, that policy would make sense, so it will never happen. Instead, Washington will end up extravagantly funding corn ethanol and imposing steep tariffs on sugar ethanol. Our energy policy is a disaster, and neither party is serious about making it better.

PS. Here's a list of the top 10 fully electric cars you can buy right now.


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"P.S. Here's a list of the top 10 fully electric cars you can buy today." Huh? I just looked at the top 6 and found three that say things indicating that they aren't available. Guess that means that I can't "buy today." Prius has already sold more cars this year than last year. Did it occur to you that the incentives came right after they were able to produce more? The waiting line was as much because of the lack of cars as it was the price of gas.