$19,000 Toyota Prius C: Why buy a Corolla or other compact?
An interesting litmus test for Toyota hybrid cars
Do you really need battery technologies to achieve automotive success through the next decade? According to companies like Hyundai, the answer is no, although even Hyundai will admit that hybrids are still required even if just to maintain image and perception. And most automakers seem to agree, at least judging by the plethora of quality, non-hybrid compact offerings hitting the streets these days.
But the 53 mpg — city NOT highway — Prius C might make automakers rethink the value proposition of compact hybrids.
With a sub-$19,000 starting price the smaller Prius C offers interesting potential. Yes, it’s still more expensive than a Corolla, for example, but it might not be that much more costly, assuming the base Prius C includes similar options as the Corolla LE — power windows, locks, and 6 airbags. Of course, the Prius C offers 9 airbags. In fact the cost difference appears to be less than $2000 and maybe even as little as $1500.
Obviously, $1500 isn’t pocket change, but based on average fuel economy Prius C buyers would recoup their hybrid premium in two years, or even less if heavy urban drivers. After 5 years C buyers could be $2,000 ahead. And with $4.00+ gasoline forecasts already in the mix for 2012, that hybrid premium could turn into an even bigger investment.
Still, we’ll have to wait for final numbers and a full spec-by-spec comparison, but the Prius C could be a real litmus test for the viability — even the necessity — of hybrid technology in the compact space.