I need to turn in my leased Honda Fit in a few months and was considering different options. When I leased the Fit gas cost about $3.75/gallon in my area. Now it’s $2.50/gallon.
I priced out a lease for the Fit and the Prius, and the Prius wound up costing an extra $1,000 over 3 years, including the cost benefit for the Prius’s higher mileage. Since gas prices dropped immediately after that, I saved a lot of money by getting the Fit.
I just looked at Prius sales figures over the past 3 to 4 years. I am not the only one doing the math apparently. Prius sales are way down since 2014. For the 4 months ended April, Prius sales were 63,673 – 2014, 57,550 – 2015, 45,877 – 2016 and 38,359 – 2017. Sales this year are down 16.4% from last year, and 39.8% from 2014.
What I think this says about the Prius is that the ONLY reason people bought them was the car’s high mileage. If they liked the car they would have chosen it regardless of the gasoline cost. If people liked the car, sales wouldn’t be off by nearly 40% over the past 3 years. If they liked the car, sales wouldn’t be off by more than 16% since 2016, when gas prices have been relatively stable year-over-year.
This is why I think Tesla is going to succeed. They aren’t making electric cars to reduce fossil fuel consumption. They make electric cars because that’s the way great cars should be powered. If you set out to make a truly modern great car, you wouldn’t put a combustion engine in it.
And that’s why people want Teslas. Yeah, they can pat themselves on the back because they use electricity instead of fossil fuel. But really they buy them because they love the cars.
Long ago the auto industry figured out that people buy cars that inspire lust. A car buying decision shouldn’t be like deciding to take your medicine. Toyota and the rest of the car makers have failed to make hybrids a success because they don’t understand. Making a hybrid car that sucks to drive, or looks clunky, or is the exact same as a gas-powered car except that it’s slower and heavier, is dumb.
I hope the industry is looking at the Prius sales numbers and wakes up. People don’t want to punish themselves when they buy a car.