If you've been eyeing the new plug-in version of Toyota's popular Prius hybrid, it's a good thing you waited.
The automaker announced Wednesday it would be slashing the price of the 2014 plug-in Prius by at least $2,000 in an effort to lure more people to the greenest member of the Prius family.
The 2014 plug-in model will now start at $29,990, a 6% drop from 2013, despite no changes to the car. The more upmarket Advanced model will command $34,905, which is more than $4,000 cheaper than the same car in 2013.
The price cut is a "clear indication pricing in this space remains out of reach for most consumers," said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst at kbb.com. "Even at $30,000 or below, manufacturers will find it difficult to attract buyers, especially with gas prices trending downward and gas-powered vehicles becoming more fuel-efficient than ever," Gutierrez said.
Toyota is just the latest automaker to slash the price of its plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicle. Honda, Chevrolet, Fiat, and Nissan are among the automakers who have sharply cut the price of their electric vehicles in the last six months to stoke the interest of car buyers who have not been particularly eager to go electric.
Of the roughly 187,000 Prius models Toyota has sold so far for 2013, only about 8,000 of them have been the plug-in model. This is despite the cars' eligibility for carpool lane access in California, a feature the regular Prius doesn't offer. The plug-in model is also eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $2,500 and a $1,500 rebate from the state of California, Toyota said.
The plug-in Prius isn't available in every state. Only dealers in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington are selling the car.
Both Prius plug-in models are rated at 95 mpg when factoring the 11-mile electric-only range. In gas-only mode, it hits 50 mpg combined.
Yet many brands -- Toyota included -- sell compact cars that get better than 40 mpg on the highway for less than $20,000. This makes justifying a $10,000 price difference for better fuel economy hard for customers to rationalize, Gutierrez said.